September 30, 2007
Between the Rock and, umm, a hard place
AgentBedHead is in a bit of a dither, methinks, in what might prove to be her last movie review at Pajiba.
September 29, 2007
Suck it, Bucky Dent.
Yips! from Robbo:
For Heaven's sake, Steve-O, if you're gonna show ecstatic Sawx fans, how about getting Christie Brinkley to fill out that jersey instead of some hipster doofus teens?
September 28, 2007
Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting (TM)
After the eldest Llama-ette's soccer game tomorrow morning, the Missus and I will be skipping town in order to head down to the expansive, yet highly secured Fort LMC, there to cavort with our Llama confederate during his well-deserved sojourn from the Iraqi sand-box.
In the meantime, I leave you with the fact that September 29 is the anniversary of the birth of none other than Horatio, Lord Nelson, the supreme personnification of the fighting spirit of the Royal Navy during its struggles agains that Bonaparte. Here is my tribute from a couple years ago.
Yes, I'm recycling blog material here. But as we will be absent, I feel it is in a good cause. Plus, just today I received into my hot little hands a new book on the subject:
Law knows when I'm going to get around to reading it, except that, as Manwell the Waiter says, "Heventualleeee."
Gratuitous Swimming the Tiber Observation
I think St. Augustine and I are going to be good friends.
I won't go into it further here and now, except to say that in the time since I made the conscious decision to head for Rome, I've been so happy and so desirous to apply that happiness in a Christian manner to anybody who can't get out of the way in time that I'm afraid I'm going to rupture something even before I am o-fficially accepted into the Church.
The Missus has been eyeing me askance heretofore, worried that my conversion was going to turn me into a crank. I'm beginning to think that she ought to fear just the opposite - that I will become so, what, loving that she won't be able to stand me anymore.
That is all. For now.
Mrs. P tells the tale of her boy-that-sure-explains-a-lot ancestress today. Well, you know how my mind works, so you shouldn't be surprised a-tall that I'm posting this in tribute:
Silky Pony Cries "Uncle" - Takes Public Campaign Funds
In this political climate, when a candidate takes public funds (which imposes limits on their campaign) they are pretty much as screwed as the NY Mets are right now.
The 2004 vice presidential nominee claimed higher moral ground in the debate over money in politics while announcing the change. But it comes after he brought in far fewer dollars than rivals Barack Obama and . Hillary Rodham Clinton.Translation: I can't compete in fundraising with Obama and "she who must not be named", so in order for me to even show a respectable third place I desperately need money".
"It is worrisome seeing the amount of money that is being raised in this campaign," Edwards said on CNN. "This is about taking a stand, a principled stand, and I believe in public financing." Somehow I don't think he'd find it quite as "worrisome" if he was the one doing all that money.
Money for the public financing fund comes from taxpayers who agree to set aside $3 from their income taxes. Candidates who take from the fund must comply with spending limits.
"How else am I going to afford all my beauty products?"
What I find baffling is that Edwards seems (and I could be very wrong here) to be the candidate that the nutroots are the least unenthusiastic about. In fact, I had always thought that his outreach to the Uber-Left was his grand strategy as the candidate of "the base".
Unfortunately for the former Senator and slip-and-fall trial lawyer, the Angry Left is sending all of its money to MoveOn.org and other organizations instead of him. And after Edwards' inability to commit to removing all the troops from Iraq in his hypothetical administration, I doubt he can expect his campaign to start catching fire at the grass-roots level. In fact, it will probably have the opposite effect since the spending limits Edwards would have leading into the general would put him at a major disadvantage against the GOP nominee - making him a weaker candidate.
Layers and LAYERS of fact-checking going on
Did I mention layers?
WASHINGTON - Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. Anyone got a problem with that? With Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to tack another four or eight "Clinton" years on to the Bush-Clinton-Bush presidential pattern that already has held sway for two decades, talk of Bush-Clinton fatigue is increasingly cropping up in the national political debate.
The dominance of the two families in U.S. presidential politics is unprecedented. (The closest comparisons are the father-son presidencies of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, whose single terms were separated by eight years, and the presidencies of fifth cousins Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, whose collective 20 years as president were separated by a quarter-century.)
Eight years, twenty four years, who is counting....
Sidenote: shouldn't this really be Yale Fatigue? The unprecedented dominance of the White House by graduates of fair New Haven?
Sidenote Deux: what's with articles like this and the dissing of the Harrisons? What, William Henry serves the most scandal free term as president, followed by his grandson Benny, and they get no love from the historians? Meh.
Nothing Left To Say
With last night's loss (the fourth in a row), the Mets are now in a deadlocked tie with Philly for the division. Even if they were to sweep the dirty Fish this weekend, they could still be looking at tie-breaking scenarios and one-game playoffs.
This collapse is historical and without the division title, a chance for this team at the wildcard would be even more remote. Colorado is surging and San Diego is holding its own.
It seems like the NY Mets have become a mash-up of the "bums" from Brooklyn and the Red Sox (during the "curse" years). Honestly, I can't even watch this car wreck anymore.
Congratulations to the rest of the division who kept playing with heart even though there was little to play for. The heart that the Mets had has somehow been ripped out of the chest of this team - and the fans. It's, frankly, a disgrace.
To quote Corporal Hudson, "Game over, man. Game over!"
Hard Luck Yips! from Robbo: Nothing much I can say, so how about letting Wonder Woman take you out of your misery?
"I've got a 6-4-3 double play combo for you, Big Boy...."
September 27, 2007
"Few Steps Back?" ***
Needless to say, between RCIA class and the Nats' game I didn't bother with the Donk debate last evening, but I'm a bit intrigued by the apparent uniformity in their inability to guarantee an instanter Iraqi pull-out:
The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.
Now part of this may just be born of a sense of responsibility when it comes to showing one's strategic hand to the enemy. But I got wondering if the fact that all the leading contenders said so wasn't some kind of concerted message aimed at the nut-roots crowd to cut it down to size. MoveOn made a serious blunder in going after Gen. Petreaus, and it strikes me that the Donks might have spotted an opportune time to distance themselves a bit, given that any potential nominee who is perceived as being MoveOn's beyotch has got about as much chance in the general election as George McGovern.
*** Spot the quote.
Yips! from Gary:
Dean Barnett is thinking along the same lines. In fact, it demonstrates the problem that the nutroots has - all bark and no bite.
Is that giant sucking sound you hear the air letting out of MoveOn.org's balloon of self-importance?
UPDATE: Jeez, what's the matter with you people? The quote is from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly right at the beginning when Blondie jumps the three dudes about to whack Tuco! (Okay, it might be "Couple steps back?" but it's close enough for any true Spaghetti Western fan.)
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
Well, in the absence of the Missus and the eldest gel, I managed to get the two younger Llama-ettes up, dressed, fed, lunchboxed and off to school without much fuss this morning. I even managed to brush their hair to the extent that they didn't look quite like Medusa's little sisters, although some of the effect was spoiled by the top-down jeep ride over to St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.
Since the Missus teaches there, I don't generally do drop-offs or pick-ups at school, but when I do, we often seem to make something of a spectacle of ourselves. Coming through the line, not only does my Wrangler stand out in the sea of SUVs and minivans, but the gels have developed a number of creative ways of getting out. Sometimes they will swing through the door from the rollbar like uniformed apes. Other times, when the top is down, I will let them simply jump off the back. In a custody battle, I'm sure this would be grounds for barring me from even being in the same county as them, but I like to think that the cool creds I ring up actually improve the bond among us and that the gels will look back on the memory fondly. Plus, I am endlessly amused by watching the expressions on other parents' faces as my brood tumbles out.
BTW, speaking of tumbling, I write here often about the hell-on-wheels five year old, usually in some exasperation. However, I must give the gel credit for being no fool. After I told her for the tenth time this morning to get out of bed and she persisted in pretending to be asleep, I said matter-of-factly, "Okay, I guess I'll just have to pour water on your head," and began moving toward the cup. She was up in no seconds flat, laughing because she knew full well that I would have relished, relished the opportunity of booshing her. That's my gel: while she perpetually dances over the line, she always knows exactly where it is.
Best Take On The "Nutmeg Nincompoop" Evaaahhh!
Via Stephen Green (aka Vodkapundit) at PajamasMedia:
The apparent fact that Chris Dodd wakes up in the morning, stands in front of the mirror, examines his face with a razor in his hand and thinks, “Mr. President” is reason enough not to vote for him.My sentiments exactly. He's got some great lines on the other Dem aspirants to the Oval Office as well.
"Bionic Woman" - The Quick Review
Normally I resist watching new TV shows as much as possible. But I wanted to give NBC's re-imagined "Bionic Woman" a shot.
Brought to you by some of the folks who updated "Battlestar Galactica", this series is gritty and dark compared with the light and sometimes campy original (Max the bionic dog, anyone?). Last night's series opener was pretty good. Having a renegade first bionic woman (played by BSG's Katee Sackhoff) is a hoot. And Miguel Ferrer in the "Oscar Goldman" type role was a deft casting choice.
Michelle Ryan as Jamie Sommers is very easy on the eyes. And unlike the Lindsey Wagner version, she kicks butt with extreme prejudice. And there is a lot of mystery surrounding the organization that seeks to recruit her.
In short, I'll give it another five or six episodes to see how the plotline develops. Definitely worth a look.
September 26, 2007
Suck It, Gary!
This is for you:
If my scorekeeping is right, we end the season with a split record of 9 wins each. Not so shabby for a gang of nobodies against the (possible) winner of the NL East.
If it's any consolation, we intend to head down to Philly and put the hurt on them this weekend, possibly saving your girly-man Noo Yawk fannies.
Beaten Down Yips! from Gary:
Up until now I rationalized to myself that the Cards last year limped into the playoffs and starting the post-season gave them a fresh start. Now...eh. I can't get my head around it but we just.don't.have.the.pitching.
I mean, really. WTF? And to have the Yankee fans all giddy this morning that they managed to "clinch" second place (wow) as if it's the feel good story of the season is just too much to take.
Face it, unless the Mets run the table the next four games and earn it they don't deserve a post-season.
That is my last word on the subject.
Other than just keep that Washington mojo going into this weekend.
Happy Birthday to Linda Hamilton, born this day in 1956 in Salisbury, MD.
Since comments seem to be awfully sparse today, I'll see if I can get a thread going by opening up a discussion topic. Guys, which one:
The soft-but-nice pre-first-attack Sarah?
Or the buff-but-psychotic post-first-attack Sarah?
Yips! from Gary:
Light match...stand back.
Happy Birthday to Olivia Newton-John who turns 59 today.
So which do we like better? The pre-makover wholesome yet prudish "Sandra Dee" version?
Or the leather clad street ho look courtesy of Frenchie?
Gratuitous Halloween Musickal Posting (TM)
Having recently got the Llama-ettes all worked up in anticipation, I nipped out to buy a new copy of Camille Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre for playing on and about Halloween.
This piece is described as a "symphonic poem". Generally, I don't much like programatic musick, that is, pieces that are meant to tell some kind of story. I also think it's a mistake to over-use such pieces, as is often done, as an introduction to classical musick novices (especially for kiddies) because it trains them to listen for the wrong thing, i.e., to pay too much attention to mental pictures and not enough to simply listening to the musick for its own sake.
Nonetheless, I've always had a soft spot for Danse Macabre and its depiction of a wild night in the graveyard presided over by Death on the fiddle, in part because I've liked the "spooks" idea ever since I was a kid and in part because I think it's so well put together - short, exciting and to the point. If you are going to use the programatical hook on the young 'uns, this is one of the pieces to do it.
That's Not My Church!
Nasty, Brutish & Short has the skinny on the collective answer of the bishops of the Episcopal Church, led by Her High Priestessness Katharine "Damn The Icebergs" Jefferts-Shorri, to the demand of the Anglican Communion that it get back in line. If you read the actual document, it's got enough carefully crafted waffle language to allow TEC to maintain that it really, honestly, is trying to work with the Communion, and probably also to give Archbishop Rowan "Follow The Money" Williams some political cover. However, the more conservative elements of the Communion, who called TEC to account in the first place, will see it for what it really is.
"And the horse you rode in on, as well."
As it happens, I o-fficially resigned from my vestry this week in connection with my Tiber-swimming activities and I must confess that I'm glad to be shot of the TEC as she begins to sink. Meanwhile, NBS and (I suspect) a great many other conservative Palies, are trying to figure out which lifeboat to man. I wish both him and all the others the best of luck.
UPDATE: Of course, Dr. Kendall Harmon has got much more over at T-19. Click and scroll.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
This Missus and the eldest Llama-ette were off at six ack emma for some class field trip to a camp in the Shenandoah for a couple nights, leaving me to deal with Chico and Harpo. Care for a glass of lemonade?
I laugh through my tears. Actually, the resemblance of the overall modi operandi between Harpo and the five year old, right down to the facial expressions, is frightening. The only difference, the only thing that makes my gel the Bearded Spock Universe Harpo, is the fact that she never ever stops talking.
Oh, and before the LMC drops in and starts making smug predictions about biker boyfriends, sky-diving lessons and aggressive body-piercing as he is wont to do, let me just remind him that the gel may very well take it into her head that she's going to marry the Future ROTC Scholarship Recipient some day whether the boy likes it or not.
Buying the baseball that broke Hank Aaron's home run record? $752 thousand dollars.
Branding Barry Bonds as a mega-jerk forever?
September 25, 2007
Gratuitous Llama Dockyard Blegging
One of the things I've got back into recently is the construction of a model of the "Harvey", a Baltimore clipper built in 1847. I've had the kit for about 18 months now. While I started out strong laying the keel and the bulkheads, I got rayther bogged down in planking the hull. Regular readers will know that this has been a fairly turbulant and distracting year 'round Orgle Manor, so the ship has sat on the stocks for quite some time.
However, as I say, I've been devoting much more time to her lately, the result being that the hull planking (or the first layer, at any rate), is just about done and it will soon be time to start thinking about bulwarks, spill-channels and the like.
That's where the blegging comes in. In this kit, most of the pieces are pre-cut. Nonetheless, they are not pre-formed. The bulwarks, spill-channels and railing are straight. The sides of the hull to which they will attach are curved. My question: how does one curve fairly solid (say 2 or 3 mm thick or so) pieces of wood to make them conform to the shape of the hull? The directions - feebly translated from Italian - are fairly vague. I gather from additional research that one should soak the wood in water. But I don't know things like how long it should soak, whether water temp makes any difference, and whether there is anything else that ought to be added to the water to increase the wood's suppleness. Further, is it best to mount the wood while it is wet or to mold it and then let it dry out first?
Any advice from model/wood-working sharks out there would be greatly appreciated.
I Hate Tuesdays
Just thought you'd like to know.
Every other day of the week has some kind of flow to it, some kind of vibe, some kind of life.
Monday can be harsh, but it's the start of the cycle, the turning of the page.
Wednesday is hump day, with the pleasant sense of hitting the crest.
Thursday has always been my favorite, as it combines the feel of an outgoing tide with a sense that the end is not far off.
Friday is actually a bit anticlimactic to me, but heck, it is still Friday.
But Tuesday? It's the hole in the week. The dead day. You can't really even say anything other than, "Oh, it's Tuesday."
I find that very depressing.
Haven't heard from you this morning. Hope you weren't up too late screaming at the tee vee or anything.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
On this day in 1513, Vasco Núñez De Balboa, crossing the Isthmus of Panama, discovered the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. John Keats, five foot tall, famously included this episode in his "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" in order to reinforce the imagery of wonderment in discovery:
MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
Of course as you can see, Keats put the wrong explorer on that peak in Darien. Without ever having researched it, I've always had the sense that Keats did this deliberately, recognizing that "stout Cortez" scans a great deal more satisfyingly than "stout Balboa" would.
Reasoning With The Unreasonable
I highly recommend Bret Stephens' article in today's OpinionJournal.com taking up the remark made by John Coatsworth, acting dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, to the effect that if Hitler were available, Columbia would invite him to come and speak, too. A sample:
What, then, would be the purpose of such an invitation? Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, offered a clue in a statement issued last week: "Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas--to understand the world as it is and as it might be," he said. "Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs many, most or even all of us will find offensive and even odious. We trust our community, including our students, to be fully capable of dealing with these occasions, through dialogue and reason."
That's an interesting thought, coming from a man who won't countenance an ROTC program on campus. But leave that aside. What's more important is the question of how Columbia defines the set of ideas it believes are worth "confronting," whether its confidence in "dialogue and reason" is well placed and, finally, whether confronting ideas is a sufficient condition for understanding the world.
In a March 1952 essay in Commentary magazine on "George Orwell and the Politics of Truth," [Lionel] Trilling observed that "the gist of Orwell's criticism of the liberal intelligentsia was that they refused to understand the conditioned way of life." Orwell, he wrote, really knew what it was like to live under a totalitarian regime--unlike, say, George Bernard Shaw, who had "insisted upon remaining sublimely unaware of the Russian actuality," or H.G. Wells, who had "pooh-poohed the threat of Hitler." By contrast, Orwell "had the simple courage to point out that the pacifists preached their doctrine under condition of the protection of the British navy, and that, against Germany and Russia, Gandhi's passive resistance would have been to no avail."
Trilling took the point a step further, assailing the intelligentsia's habit of treating politics as a "nightmare abstraction" and "pointing to the fearfulness of the nightmare as evidence of their sense of reality." To put this in the context of Mr. Coatsworth's hypothetical, Trilling might have said that in hosting and perhaps debating Hitler, Columbia's faculty and students would not have been "confronting" him, much as they might have gulled themselves into believing they were. Hitler at Columbia would merely have been a man at a podium, offering his "ideas" on this or that, and not the master of a huge terror apparatus bearing down on you. To suggest that such an event amounts to a confrontation, or offers a perspective on reality, is a bit like suggesting that one "confronts" a wild animal by staring at it through its cage at a zoo.
Read the rest.
Ralph Peters in the New York Post on the benefits of Reserve Officer Training Corps programs for the students. This reminds me of the short-sightedness of the Lefties who run America's colleges and universities. The leftists who pat themselves on the back for running off ROTC programs, or keeping them from returning, have no idea of the reason why such programs were created in the first place.
The Founding Fathers were distrustful of large standing armies because of the very real threat of military coups posed by armies in Europe. Congress recognized the need for professional military officers and created the United States Military Academy in the early part of the nineteenth century to ensure the tiny army of the day would have leaders with the necessary training in the art of war, especially in engineering, artillery, and the construction of fortifications. However, Congress later set up the land grant colleges in part to produce officers for the militia. ROTC was later created to meet the need for more officers by training cadets in civilian colleges, rather than relying on West Point and officer candidate programs which then commissioned only soldiers already in uniform. In doing so, Congress ensured the officer corps is composed largely of graduates of civilian liberal arts programs. ROTC graduates comprise almost sixty percent of the officer corps compared to seventeen percent for West Point and nine percent for OCS.
ROTC is not the presence of the Army on campus so much as it is the presence of the university in the Army in the words of of one of the generals who oversaw ROTC in the early Eighties. The question for college faculties should be--what sort of college graduates do you want as Army officers? Why not the graduates of Columbia, Harvard, and Yale? Parents, students, and alumni certainly expect these schools have quality liberal arts program, exactly the sort of training tomorrow's military leaders will need to succeed.
September 24, 2007
The American Left, as exemplied by the faculty at Columbia.
Your humble LMC is back for my R&R leave, most of which will be spent at the post headquarters, located amidst the vast real estate holdings which comprise Fort LMC. I had big plans to meet to meet Mrs. LMC in Europe for my mid-tour vacation when I first arrived in the Middle East. I soon realized nothing would be better than to go home and watch my children chase the dog around the back yard with my wife in one hand and a cold beer in the other. It is great to be back.
GOP '08: Romney And "Electability"
There's a great point/counterpoint post (complete with reader comments) over at Race 4 2008 regarding Mitt Romney's appeal outside of Iowa and New Hampshire in the primary race and nationally in the general.
Yes, it's very early but for those already formulating opinions might find this post interesting (the comments regarding the Morman thing are fascinating).
For myself, I'm so far kind of neutral on Romney. He gets more compelling the more you become familiar with him but considering he'd be going up against "she who must not be named", his appeal in Red States as well as Blue States is a valid concern.
Breaking: No Homosexuals In Iran
Probably because the lastest report that Ahmadinejad received says they were all put to death.
The link has a clip. Despite the laughter in the audience, he seems to seriously believe this assertion.
I kid you not - it's the llama geriatric obstacle course put on by the Llama Futurity Association at the Iowa Equestrian Center. Roll the tape:
Note the look of incredulity that seems to play across the llamas' faces as they're led through the course, as if they're asking themselves whether the directors of the LFA have been breaking into the corn liquor again.
Folks, they don't call Iowa the "Gateway to Nebraska" for nothing.
Maybe He Didn't Get His Free Copy Of USAToday
Scott D. Clark, a guest at the Embassy Suites Hotel in St. Paul, cornered the duck early Saturday morning, grabbed the bird and ripped its head from its body while a hotel security guard and others watched, police said.In addition to possible jail time, the perpetrator will be required to view the following video:
Clark then turned to onlookers and said: "I'm hungry. I'm gonna eat it," St. Paul police Sgt. John Wuorinen said.
"He was allegedly drunk," Wuorinen said.
You know, this is the second weekend in a row that I've flipped on a football game and, after a few minutes, found myself thinking "who really gives a damn?"
And before you start snarking about the 'Fins being 0-3, that's not the reason. I'm thinking it instead has something to do with how much more into baseball I've been this year, with its very different rhythms, cycles and nuances. After spending the weekend with the Llama-ettes watching the Nats get taken apart by the Phillies (except yesterday afternoon), and talking about batting averages, bullpens, strike zones and pennant races, I find my interest in watching a bunch of guys crash into each other has tailed off significantly.
Will this trend continue? Will it only last through October, with my enthusiasm for football reviving when the Series is over and there's nothing else to watch? I dunno.
RATIONALIZATION YIPS from Steve-O: Nah, don't believe him: it's because the Fins suck Donkey Kong. At our abode, excitement in Boston College's great football season is displacing all else--that, and glee over Notre Dame's complete meltdown. Remainder bin anyone?
Things I can't quite get my brain around
This article, juxtaposed with the dancing cow ad on the page. Criminy.....
Gratuitous Crossing the Tiber Posting
The sound of shrieking that you did not hear over the weekend from the far northeastern part of the country was Mom being totally cool about my announcement that I had enrolled in RCIA. She's a died-in-the-wool Proddy, we've had words about Rome in the past, and I was rayther dreading springing the news on her.
Instead, she said that of course I had to do what I thought was right and that she would back me up. She also mentioned that her grandfather had constantly tried and failed to convert her when she was young, and that she supposed St. Rita had finally caught up with her, albeit a generation late.
And speaking of conversions, lots of folks have sent me the nooz that another Episcopal bishop, The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Bishop of the Rio Grande, is giving it up and going to Rome. His opinion about what is happening to TEC is similar to mine:
He called the bishops’ meeting last March “a profoundly disturbing experience for me. I was more than a little surprised when such a substantial majority declared the polity of the Episcopal Church to be primarily that of an autonomous and independent local church relating to the wider Anglican Communion by voluntary association. This is not the Anglicanism in which I was formed, inspired by the Oxford Movement and the Catholic Revival in the Church of England … honestly, I did not recognize the church that this House described on that occasion.”
Yup. The gay bishop business gets all the headlines, but I see it more as a symptom than as the underlying problem, which is that in place of orthodoxy and tradition, the church has embraced a kind of fuzzy autonomous universalism which it feels allows its leaders to believe whatever they like and to do pretty much whatever seems like a good idea at the time.
I was also amused by Bishop Steenson's experience at setting foot in the Tiber:
Regarding his move to the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Steenson said, “I believe that the Lord now calls me in this direction. It amazes me, after all of these years, what a radical journey of faith this must necessarily be. To some it seems foolish; to others disloyal; to others an abandonment.”
Yup, again. I'm still in a state of amazement myself.
Gratuitous Change of Season Posting
In what is rapidly becoming a tradition 'round here, I herald the start of my favorite part of the year with Mr. John Keats, five feet tall:
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
We don't have any apple trees, but this has been a record year for the raspberries, which are so heavy that we can't keep up with them, and are bending the canes to the ground.
September 22, 2007
Robbo, behind the curve
Beaten across the Tiber by the Jordana clan (replete with cutie pics).
Exxxxxxxcellent...SMITHERS! A telegram to Mrs. Schorri. "My Dearest Katharine: You like apples? How 'bout them apples!"
UPDATE: EDITORIAL DISCRETION Yips from Steve-O I took down a comment from the thread. I'm going to catch heck for it, and I'm not going to explain it, except in classic Nick the Bartender fashion by pointing to the sign above the Bar: if you don't like our editorial decisions, get your own darn blog.
Yips! from Robbo: Oh, dear.
Spent the day doing the Soccer Dad thing, as all three Llama-ettes had games, each exquisitely timed so that I no sooner brought one gel home as I needed to get the next in the car and shuttle her off to the field.
This was the five year old's very first game. The way the local Soccer Nazis run things, the kids at her age are not actually encouraged to "play" each other, but just to boot the ball around and have fun. Nonetheless, as her team (the Gray Dolphins) took to the field, the gel bounded up to one of her rivals and yelled, "We're gonna beeeeat youuuuu!!!"
The seven year old was next. She is the drama queen of the family and usually manages some kind of injury, either real or imagined, during a game. Today it was an alleged twisted ankle during the first half. I duly carried her off the pitch, but as I was assistant coaching her team (the Purple Cheetahs) on one of the fields, I unceremonially dumped her on the sidelines and, after a quick check of her leg, went back to work. Deprived of an audience, mirabile dictu, she quickly healed, and played a very aggressive second half.
The nine year old is playing full-bore soccer this year and it's a real treat to see the way her team (the Creepy Green Leprechauns) are gelling together. They had a solid 3-0 win last weekend, but were down 0-2 going into the half today. Nonetheless, they kept it together, quickly scored a goal at the beginning of the second half, and kept the pressure on for the remainder of the game. At the very end, it looked as if we were going to get the tie, but the ref called the game just as the ball was heading into the other team's net. (I swear she blew the whistle after the ball left our player's foot.) Furious but suppressed grumbling on our sideline, but I suppose it was a good lesson in learning to deal with the breaks.
It was a boiling hot and humid day today, and I'm pleased to say that none of the gels slacked off. Orange slices at halftime work wonders, as does the judicious pouring of water down the shirt and over the head.
September 21, 2007
Thirty years ago today
History, my friends:
I find this intensely amusing: Offensive, angry and ginger - Simpsons' Willie defines US image of the Scot. The article is written by a woman we can only hope is a Scot herself. Certainly she is angry and offended:
Despite all the money, the glossy adverts and the brand marketing, Scotland’s international image is personified by the execrable Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons cartoon series.
Groundskeeper Willie, should you be unfamilar with him, is possibly the most offensive, angry, feral, fictional Scotsman ever invented. Think of the worst possible stereotype of the Scot; double it, and you have got Willie — a red-haired, bearded, foul-tempered, incompetent, haggis-eating, testosterone-filled boor who spends his private time secretly videotaping couples in their cars.
As the janitor at Springfield Elementary School, Willie is most famous for greeting a class of students studying French with “Bon jourrrrrrr! You cheese-eating surrender monkeys!” — a phrase that gained international fame when American neocons used it at the start of the Iraq war.
This very same ghastly Willie, according to the latest reseach commissioned by the Scottish Executive into attitudes of Americans, is the sterotypical image of Scots on the other side of the Atlantic.
Yips! to Mr. Atoz at Agent Bedhead.
Of course, it isn't just the Simpsons. You want some funny Scots stereotyping? Move! Now!
But it isn't all home-grown, of course. Who can forget the famous-Scots-poet-who-wasn't-Bobby Burns, Ewen McTeagal?
Then, of course, there's the Queen's Own McKamikazee Highlanders:
(I've been itching for an excuse to slap these vids up.)
Happy Birthday, Bill Murray!
Growing up as a teenager in the 1980's, Murray taught me two valuable lessons: the appeal of a wry sense of humor and the importance of being yourself and not caring what other people will think of you.
Submitted for your approval. Bill's two most inspirational speeches on film.
And from "Stripes" (which kicks in at the 2:30 mark):
I'll leave it to you all to choose your favorite. Have a great one, Bill!
Yips! from Robbo: Aaaaand since we get an awful lot of google traffic from people who don't know the difference between Llama and Lama, here's another classik:
I'll light the fuse and stand back by saying that Bill's Spangler is about the only thing really worth watching in this flik.
Nit-picky Yips! back from Gary:
Actually, the name's Spackler...Carl Spackler. But I assume you got tripped up by the name of Bill's co-Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (not to be confused with noted German historian, Oswald Spengler. But that's a whole other post...)
Yips! from Robbo: Whoops! My dangerously shallow knowledge of cool is showing again. As Zaphod Beeblebrox said of the waiter at Milliway's, I'm so un-hip it's a wonder my bum doesn't fall off.
Gratuitous Nats Posting
Damn the Phillies and their @(#*$& bullpen. And damn the @#$*&( Mets for choking and blowing a 3 run lead against the Marlins.
You guys aren't the ones who have to explain to my daughter that the Marlins gained a game on the Nats overnight. And she's very grumpy in the morning to begin with.
Friday ROTF Funny
Even if you assume it's staged and the guy isn't really passed out, the results are HIGHlarious:
Compare And Contrast
The body language of NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani with the junior Senator from NY touring Ground Zero on September 12, 2001.
Doesn't it look like she's thinking, "God, please get me out of here. Must not...breathe in...too...deeply."?
That moment speaks volumes about two distinctly different Presidential candidates.
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
In an interview with the Advocate, a gay publication, interviewer Sean Kennedy asked "she who must not be named": "How do you respond to the occasional rumor that you're a lesbian?"
Now that had to be a bit of an awkward moment.
Your Morning Funny
Put your coffee cup way over to the side and check out Jonah's take on Dan Rather suing CBS over the Memo-gate kerfluffle:
Frankly, we need this. And by “we,” I mean a grand coalition of people who delight in watching one of the 20th century’s most pompous gasbags fall from the top of the laughingstock tree and hit every branch on the way down. These are dour times, and if Gunga Dan and Hurricane Dan and What’s-The-Frequency-Kenneth Dan want to trade their Afghan robes, yellow windbreakers and enormous tinfoil hats for some baggy pants, bright-orange wigs and floppy shoes, I say let them. I just hope all of the Dans show up at the courthouse in a teensy-weensy clown car.
Read the rest. Frankly, I'm with Jonah on this one: You go, Dan!
Random Commuter Observation
I haven't had the top up on the ol' jeep for about two weeks now. I do love this weather - cool, misty mornings and balmy afternoons - not only in its own right, but also in its capacity as harbinger of things to come, Autumn being my absolute favorite season.
Except for the wasps and bees. Hate the wasps and bees in Autumn. They get all fussy and aggressive, sensing their impending doom. Try to have a nice picnic and there they are, crawling about on the sammiches and drowning themselves in the drinks.
September 20, 2007
Light Fuse, Stand Back
Ya know, the local classickal station has been flogging the new PBS series "The War - A Ken Burns Film" about The Big One and the Greatest Generation. And regardless of whether the series is any good or not, I have the distinct feeling of being hustled.
I guess it's just the whole "Ken Burns" label that bugs me. For all I know, his Civil War series may have been excellent (I never saw it), but he is, in the end, just one guy and surely his take is not the Last Word On History. And yet people seemingly wet their pants over him. And PBS knows this. I really think that PBS could put out a series entitled "Sorting Out The Blue Socks From The Black - A Ken Burns Film" and people would line up round the block to pre-order the DVD and otherwise empty their wallets on related paraphernalia.
"24" Season Seven Spoiler!
It'll become common knowledge eventually, but Fox has announced the return of a character that...well, let's just say someone that never got a "silent clock".
For those of you trying to catch-up on past seasons, you'll want to avoid this.
For those of you anxiously anticipating January, suffice to say this is guaranteed to ensure that next season will not be a turd!
Happy Birthday, Sophia Loren!
Born this day in 1934. I'd have never called Loren pretty, but by God was she beautiful. (Yes, there's a difference. No, I'm not sure I can articulate it. But you know what I mean.)
It Takes A Sith Lord To Know One
"She who must not be named" referred to VP Dick Cheney as "Darth Vader" in a NYC fund-raiser yesterday.
Which is laughable, of course. Every one knows that the real Darth Vader trembles when the Vice-President commands his apprentice to make contact with him.
Gratuitous Civil War Geekery Posting
Today is the anniversary of the last day of major fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863, during which Major General George H. Thomas earned for himself the name "Rock of Chickamauga" for his refusal to abandon his position in the face of an onslaught by Longstreet, whilst the rest of the Union army, including its commander William Rosencrans, fled in panic. Thomas' brave stand, supported only by General George Granger acting without orders, checked Longstreet's thrust. Thomas retreated in good order that night, but his valiant delaying action, coupled with the mauling they had received over the previous days' fighting, deterred the Confederates under General Braxton Bragg from following up on their victory and perhaps destroying the Union army in detail.
I readily admit to not knowing half as much about the Western theatre of the war as I do the Eastern (and I suspect this is true of many casual buffs). Shiloh, yes. The Vicksburg Campaign, certainly. But then it gets a bit vague until, say, Atlanta. And yet, these battles across Tennessee - Nashville, Chickamauga, Chattanooga - were just as bloody and desparate as those fought in and around Virginia. I suppose this in in part a function of their perceived remoteness from important strategic landmarks - say, Washington and Richmond in the east, the Mississippi River in the west. I suppose it's also a function of the fact that of the two commanders who have captured the historickal limelight, Lee never fought there and Grant only came in to clean things up at Chattanooga.
Gratuitous Toe-In-The-Tiber Posting
So we kicked off RCIA last evening. At present there are ten of us in the course, although I understand that it often happens more people show up as the year moves on. I won't go into detail about the other people in the class, except that none of them is a traditionalist Palie like self - most, to the extent they've participated in organized religion, seem to come out of one kind of Evangelical background or another. And while I'm not the oldest person there, the majority are in their 20's and 30's and still sorting out their lives. It should make for an interesting jumble of perspectives.
The first session was largely administrative in nature. In addition to our brand new Ignatius RSV Bibles and Catechisms (first assignment: memorize the first 500 pages by next Wednesday or go to hell), we also got our official beanies in the house colours, as well as our "trainee" pins.
I jest. I jest!
As a matter of fact, from the scraping of substantive matters we did start getting into, it became very obvious to me that the one thing I must take care of this week is handing in my portfolio at my current church. I had been wondering about this, whether, for example, I should wait until I was almost at the far shore of the Tiber. (My term runs out next March anyway.) However, after thinking it over, it became quite clear that I couldn't even start looking at Rome seriously and still maintain the loyalties and duties owed to TEC by vestry members. (When one signs on, one pledges to maintain the canons of the church and promote its program. I'd give a hundred bucks to any average vestry member who could even tell you what this means as a practical matter, but the point remains.) Anyhoo, I emailed the rector the other day to give him the heads up and he seems reasonably understanding. Of course, I'll still spend a fair bit of time hanging around there in support of the Missus and the Llama-ettes (indeed, the seven year old starts junior choir this Sunday), so this is hardly the sort of storming-down-the-aisle Dramatic Gesture that would cause embarrassment.
Oh, and you will be pleased that when I got home last evening, I successfully resisted the temptation to bug my eyes at the Missus, waive my fingers in the air, and say, "Opus Dei! Booogie-booogie-booogie-booooo!!!"
UPDATE: Yes, beanies:
September 19, 2007
NYC tells Ahmadinejad to piss off:
NEW YORK (CNN) -- City officials in New York have denied Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's request to visit the site of the destroyed World Trade Center next week, a police spokesman said Wednesday.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked to visit ground zero, but New York city officials said no.
The controversial, outspoken president wanted to "pay his respects" and lay a wreath at the site of the 2001 al Qaeda attacks during his visit to the U.N. General Assembly, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, citing Iranian officials.
But workers are rebuilding the foundations of the site, "and it would not be possible for him to go where other people don't go," Kelly told CNN.
Iranian officials have not put in any additional requests to visit the public platforms at ground zero, police spokesman Paul Browne told CNN. But, he said, "If there were a further request, we'd reject it" because of security fears.
Good for NYC! I got yer "respects" right here, pal. Although come to think of it, wouldn't it perhaps be more fitting to dump this slime bucket at Ground Zero dressed in nothing but a pair of My-Little-Pony girl's briefs and a spine-snapping collection of pimp-rope and tell him he has to make it back to the U.N. on foot?
UPDATE: Malkin reports that Mahmoud may try to go anyway, despite what the NYPD says, and with Secret Service escort. This is getting ridiculous.
Gratuitous Nats Posting - Good Sports Division
Okay, Gary, we'll let you have this one in order to help you keep your sanity. Anyhoo, the Marlins lost tonight as well, so no harm done. But I really thought the Nats were gonna bust it open in the 6th. Ah, well.
Stronach went to U.S. for cancer treatment: report Updated Fri. Sep. 14 2007 7:57 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Liberal MP Belinda Stronach, who is battling breast cancer, travelled to California last June for an operation that was recommended as part of her treatment, says a report.
Stronach's spokesman, Greg MacEachern, told the Toronto Star that the MP for Newmarket-Aurora had a "later-stage" operation in the U.S. after a Toronto doctor referred her.
"Belinda had one of her later-stage operations in California, after referral from her personal physicians in Toronto. Prior to this, Belinda had surgery and treatment in Toronto, and continues to receive follow-up treatment there," said MacEachern.
He said speed was not the reason why she went to California.
Instead, MacEachern said the decision was made because the U.S. hospital was the best place to have it done due to the type of surgery required.
Stronach was diagnosed last spring with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The cancer is one of the more treatable forms but Stronach still required a mastectomy -- which was done in Toronto -- and breast reconstruction.
Stronach, who announced last April she would be leaving politics before the next election, paid for the surgery in the U.S., reports the Star.
"As we said back in June when we confirmed the surgery, this is a personal and private matter between Belinda, her family and her physicians. I think you'll understand that because of respect for Belinda's privacy, we refrained from offering specific details around her medical treatment," said MacEachern.
While it is rare for MPs to seek treatment outside Canada, MacEachern said Stronach was not lacking confidence in the system.
"In fact, Belinda thinks very highly of the Canadian health-care system, and uses it when needed for herself and her children, as do all Canadians. As well, her family has clearly demonstrated that support," MacEachern told the Star.
MacEachern did not offer any other details regarding what type of surgery Stronach had or what she paid for it.
Beat on the American health care system and our drug companies until, like, you need treatment in the best research hospitals or you need the latest, newest, best drugs. Then who you gonna call: Havana? No.
But you can be pretty sure Mikey Moore doesn't go to Canada or Cuba for his medical treatment...
Gratuitous Toe-In-The-Tiber Posting
Well, I'm off to my first RCIA class in a bit. Wish me luck. This morning as I set off, the Missus said, "Go and be inspired." Considering what a reach all of this is for her, I appreciate her support all the more.
Due to the rayther amazing outpouring of support and encouragement I seem to have got, I'll keep putting up posts about my experience as I go along.
Incidentally, I met with the RCIA guy over the weekend and we got on the topic of various translations of the Bible. It turns out that he is a real shark (as is the senior priest) for olde tymme English versions, as much for the beauty of the language as anything else. "Oh, good," I said. "So that means I don't have to bring my KJV in with me for incineration, right?" He laughed heartily, but I couldn't quite tell if he scribbled "potential trouble-maker" at the bottom of his sheet of notes.
Also on the subject of Things Tiberish, Llama reader Monica just sent me a link to a post over at Whispers in the Loggia on B16's thoughts on Mozart:
“When in our home parish of Traunstein on feast days a Mass by Mozart resounded, for me, a little country boy, it seemed as if heaven stood open. In the front, in the sanctuary, columns of incense had formed in which the sunlight was broken; at the altar the sacred action took place of which we knew that heaven opened for us. And from the choir sounded music that could only come from heaven; music in which was revealed to us the jubilation of the angels over the beauty of God. …
“I have to say that something like this happens to me still when I listen to Mozart. Mozart is pure inspiration — or at least I feel it so. Each tone is correct and could not be different. The message is simply present. …
“The joy that Mozart gives us, and I feel this anew in every encounter with him, is not due to the omission of a part of reality; it is an expression of a higher perception of the whole, something I can only call inspiration out of which his compositions seem to flow naturally.”
Music for the Pope is much more than mere entertainment.... “The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can correctly evaluate the arguments,” he wrote in August 2002 in a remarkable message, dedicated to the “contemplation of beauty” and directed to a meeting of the Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy.
In the same text, he recalls an experience he had after listening to a Bach concert conducted in Munich by Leonard Bernstein.
After the last tone had faded away, he looked spontaneously at the person next to him “and right then we said: ‘Anyone who has heard this knows that the faith is true.’ The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s inspiration.”
[Waves finger at post, spluttering out "Exactly!" as best he can - except that he can think of an awful lot of other people he'd rayther hear conduct Bach than Berstein.]
As I go through this process, I shall probably have a good deal more to say on the interrelationship between Faith and musick, given how I've always felt closest to the Spirit through that medium.
Rather Sues CBS Over "Rathergate"
This is rich. Disgraced CBS anchor man Dan Rather is suing his old employer for...wait for it...damaging his reputation.
Rather also alleges that CBS "committed fraud by commissioning a 'biased' and incomplete investigation of the flawed Guard broadcast". If anyone knows what the term biased means, it's Gunga Dan. Well, now here's the chance for CBS' legal team to lay out a more thorough investigation - in open court.
LGF reminds us what "exhibit A" will look like.
What I needed
If and only if you're a Red Sawx fan, you might be interested in these t-shirts.
Mr. McGee, Don't Make Me Angry. You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry.
Dang, somebody got up on the wrong side of the camelid bed:
TERREBONNE, Ore. (AP) - Nancy Campbell of Terrebonne expected an uneventful evening jog Monday night with her 8-year-old daughter riding along on her bike.
Instead she ran into a llama suffering from what veterinarians call "berserk llama syndrome."
The llama knocked Campbell down, stomped its feet, spit, and bit her. Her daughter raced home to tell her father what was happening.
Staff from the Humane Society of Redmond arrived and it took five people to pin the 250-pound animal down. Veterinarian Dr. Rachel Eaton says male llamas sometimes go "berserk" around puberty if they aren't gelded. This, often after they have bonded too closely with people.
If the Sawx keep tanking, folks living around Steve-O's house might just want to stay indoors, or perhaps take a nice out-of-state vacation.
BTW, if we ever form a rock band here, I think "Berserk LLama Syndrome" would make a pretty good name for it.
Arrr, Which It's A Gratuitous Llama "Talk Like A Pirate Day" Book Review, D'Ye See? Sa-Ha!
In a word, this book is insane. A fond send-up of the entire 17th Century pirate genre, it reads like a cross between Bored of the Rings and Treasure Island or, if you prefer your similes cinematic, a cross between Blazing Saddles and Pirates of the Caribbean. A sample:
Gloom hung in dank folds o'er the spectral castle on lonely Octopus Rock, gloom so thick, d'ye see, that it seemed to ooze through the battlements and drip down the sheer walls like treacle. No moon peeped through the lowering cloud-wrack, no faintest glimmer relieved the inky dark, save for the lanterns on the score of galleons riding in the rock-bound harbour, the guard-room lamp beaming above the grim castle gateway, the rays from a dozen crenellated windows in the massive keep, the flare of a match as a sentry had a crafty smoke, the whoof! of a chip-pan fire i' the cookhouse - oh, all right, the place was positively ablaze with light, and when the moon suddenly came out you could see for miles! Satisfied? It was still pretty dark in the corners, anyway.
The plot involves a stolen crown and carries you from Charles II's London to Madagascar and the Spanish Main. On the way, Fraser amuses himself by jamming every single swashbuckling adventure stereotype he can think of into the story, from an Erol Flynn superhero through six different Pirate Kings and their crews, damsels in distress, an insane Spanish Viceroy and his Donnish minions, lost tribes of South American Indians, the Royal Navy and a lowly gardener who loves his drippings. (Don't ask. You'll just have to read the book.)
Despite the fact that this book is a lampoon, it shares with Fraser's Flashman series a basis planted in the truth, about which Fraser has some interesting and intriguing things to say in some notes at the end of the story. He also provides a complete bibliography of his sources and it is a testiment to both his writing skill and the niftiness of his subject that it is only by main force that I have stopped myself from going to the devil's website and buying the entire lot in one go.
Happy Birthday, Adam West!
The Original Batman was born this day in 1928.
Many...have tried...to fill...the Bat-suit...since your time....Old Chum. All....have failed.
Gratuitous Nats Posting
Ya know, I remember that at the beginning of the season everybody was predicting that the Nats were going to run up the all-time worst losing record in baseball, that we'd be lucky to win twenty games, that we were doomed, DOOOMED!!
Well, we're now three games up on the Marlins and we've got a better record than eight other clubs. So I say to all those who reported our premature death: Suck it!
I also extend serious Llama Yips! to Manny Acta for holding it together. Yip! Yip! Yip!
Yips! from Gary:
Oh Suhweet Jaysus! I keep hearing Nigel Tuffnel saying "This goes to 11". That's the Met's magic number and it's stuck there.
I'm channelling Nancy Kerrigan - "Why? Why? Why?"
Or as restated for "National Talk Like A Pirate Day":
Yo-Ho! Suhweet Jaysus, gar! Aye, i keep hearin' Nigel Tuffnel sayin' "This goes t' 11". Ahoy, that's the Met's magic number and tis' stuck thar. Aye, me parrot concurs.
Arrr! I'm channelin' Nancy Kerrigan - "Why? Why? Why, matey?
September 18, 2007
And now a personal message to Red Sox "Relief" Pitcher Eric Gagne:
Separated At Cryogenic Suspension
You know, reading about Hillary's! new health insurance fascism plan over at Drudge's, I suddenly had a kind of eerie future-flash-back. And then it hit me:
"On Earth, two hundred years ago, I was a preeence, with power over meeellions...."
I've always been leery, but now I'm scared.
Now The Terrorist Bastards Are Using Exploding Toads ***
The toads' entrails are propelled for up to a metre (3.2ft), in scenes that have been likened to science fiction.
Yips! to Gail at Scribal Terror.
*** pace Dave Barry.
Things That Make You Go "Hmmmmm.."
So I was over at the devil's website a bit ago. Following up on my earlier post about Rumpole books, I saw that I was a bit behind in the series. Since they were really quite cheap, I one-clickied a pair of them, patting myself on the back that I was being reasonable in my expenditures.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I got the auto-confirmation email just now with a total about twice what I had expected. Opening it up, I discovered that somehow or other a copy of Bennie XVI's book Jesus of Nazareth had been mixed into the order as well.
As it happens, I had been looking hard at this book after reading the Colossus' review of it a few weeks ago and was sorely tempted to buy it. In fact, I believe I got as far as ordering it, but changed my mind and cancelled at the last second.
I swear I didn't go anywhere near it today, but there it is in the order nonetheless. And in checking my account, I am informed that "the order is already being processed and cannot be changed. Don't want the book? Shlep down to the post office and mail it back then. Yeah, you know you won't."
In fact, it isn't that I don't want the book. But I know just how many books I can charge in any given month without the Missus starting to ask unpleasant questions. If Amazon goes and jams me like this, causing a spike, I'm liable to get red-flagged. And Amazon will lose out in the end, too, if the Missus cuts me off.
Jesus Is My Batting Coach
I stumbled across this purveyor of Jesus-themed kiddie sports statues over at Six Meat Buffet.
The copy claims that these statues make a great gift for young Catholic athletes because they "reinforce Jesus 'as friend' in everyday activities."
I dunno. I suppose the idea is well meant, but if I take away anything from this particular one, it's that Jesus is a baseball menace who doesn't have any concept of the back of the batter's box. On the other hand, it's probably just as well for little Jimmy that He happens to be there because in another couple seconds Jimmy's big brother is going to put that bat right into the base of his skull.
"Is That You, Rumpole?"
Great Heavens! Who even knew that John Mortimer was still alive, much less still writing Rumpole stories?
Mortimer still travels the country with his one-man shows and recently did a three week stint at the famously uncomfortable Kings Head theatre in London.
Yet he cannot stand up- due to a broken leg- and he barely eats. A broken wrist recently stopped him writing and thus drove him mad. His health is obviously failing but yet he still pushes himself so hard – why?
"Oh God, I’d be bored to death if I didn’t perform. I know it’s madness but I love performing and I have always written. When I was young, my father- before he went blind- would read me Shakespeare. I had a tiny toy theatre and I would write plays for it."
But now people are writing about him. Last year an unauthorized biography by Graham Lord – the man Mortimer calls "that little shit" – was published and this October Valerie Grove’s authorized biography will appear at the same time as Mortimer’s latest Rumpole, The Anti-Social Behavior of Horace Rumpole.
Well, well. I'll have to open a bottle of Chateau Thames Embankment with She Who Must Be Obeyed and toast the arrival of another installment of the Rumpole chronicles. (I've read some of Mortimer's novels - Paradise Postponed, Titmus Regained and Summer's Lease - and frankly found them not as interesting as the Rumpole stories, although I recall that Sir John Gielgud is screemingly funny in the tee vee version of Summer's Lease.)
Gratuitous Nats Posting
Sorry, Gary, but we're playing for honor now and anything to keep us ahead of the Marlins is a good thing. What did you think of Nook? The eldest Llama-ette calls him "Crazy Legs" because of his speed and aggressive base-running.
Yips! from Gary:
Aw, man. You thought I was kidding a couple weeks back about not taking any games for granted. The Nats gave the Mets a swirlie, stole their lunch money and stuffed them in a gym locker last night. Last week, a couple of the Mets players were going around saying they were "peaking" at the right time.
Let me quote John McLaughlin here: "WRONG!"
Random Commuter Observation
On a "for sale" sign at a house down the street from Orgle Manor, which sign has been in place for many weeks now, I noticed this morning that an additional sign reading "price improvement" had been added to it. This strikes me as one of the clunkier euphemisms I've seen.
September 17, 2007
"Who Is Eulalie Bach, Alex?"
That's the only answer I can think of to the question of who would google in here looking for Roderick Spode Schickele.
(And if you get this, you really are my kind of nerd.)
UPDATE: Speaking of Bachs (and I'm talking about old J.S., now, not the last and least of his progeny), I recently picked up this recording:
The Complete Orchestral Suites, performed by Martin Pearlman and the Boston Baroque.
As you might guess, this is a period instrument group. However, it is not obnoxiously so - no insane tempi, no extra scraping and shrieking. Instead, it comes through with a clarity of tone and purity of note well worthy of these wonderful pieces of music.
As for the musick itself, well, what can I say? I'm not especially fond of the 2nd Suite (in B minor), but I love the other three dearly. I've had the Bourrees from the 4th Suite running through my head for a couple days now. Anyone who's heart isn't lifted by them can only be hopelessly tone-deaf.
Perhaps This Is Why I Still Get Carded All The Time
This is kinda neat - the Real Age Calculator.
Here I was thinking that I'm 42. The calculator tells me, however, based on a combination of medical history and what they like to call "lifestyle choices" that I'm really something like 24. Furthermore, it tells me I'm going to live into my 90's.
To give you some idea of my real real age, my first thought on learning this was not, "Whoa - I'm gonna live a long time!" Instead, it was, "Christ, I'm not going to be able to afford to retire!"
Yips! to Lynn S.
So how often do I get an excuse for posting pictures of Restoration cavalrymen?
The Royal Mail is issueing a new series of stamps commemorating British military uniforms:
From the flamboyance of a 17th-century cavalryman to the familiar camouflage of the modern-day soldier, the set shows almost 350 years of Army history. The stamps, which go on sale on Thursday, are the first in a series of three issues on a military theme. The Army set will be followed by RAF uniforms next year and Royal Navy uniforms in 2009.
On three first-class stamps, paintings by Graham Turner portray the 1999 uniform of an NCO in the Royal Military Police, a tank commander in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment in 1944 and a 1917 observer in the Royal Field Artillery.
Three 78p stamps show a trooper in the Earl of Oxford's Horse from 1661, a grenadier in the Royal Regiment of Foot of Ireland in 1704 and a rifleman in the 95th Rifles from 1813.
(No, the rifleman does not look like Sean Bean.)
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
Today is the anniversary of the battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, if you prefer), fought this in 1862 in Maryland. It was the single bloodiest day in American history, with a total of over 23,000 killed and wounded.
The battle ended in a strategic victory for the Union, although a frustrating one to me. On the one hand, Gen. George McClellan's Army of the Potomac did stop Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North and forced his Army of Northern Virginia to retreat back across the Potomac. This took some of the political pressure off Lincoln and gave him an occassion to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. It also dampened support for the South in Britain and France.
On the other hand, McClellan's army was nearly twice the size of Lee's. Had McClellan committed his entire force or even a substantial part of it, and had he coordinated his attacks against Lee's lines better, he shoulda-woulda-coulda obliterated the Confederates. Instead, the Union forces went in cautiously and piece-meal, allowing Lee to shift his men around as needed (which he did brilliantly, btw). It was a combination of this hesitancy and his extremely slow pursuit of the Confederates back into Virginia that finally caused a fed-up Lincoln to get rid of McClellan once and for all.
She Almost Gets It
Former Dukakis Campaign Manager Susan Estrich has an opinion piece at FoxNews.com this morning warning Democrats of the perils in attacking General David Petraeus. At first look, it seems like Estrich - a partisan Democrat - is able to see the forest for the trees (although she can't resist a couple of ad hominem knocks on the President):
It’s one thing to attack the president as a fool and a bumbler, as misguided in his policy and incompetent in its execution. That’s easy: almost everyone outside Bush’s family will agree with you, even the Republican candidates, who are generally the ones forced into an elaborate two-step as they try to defend the war and distance themselves from the Commander-in-Chief who has been in charge of it.But here Estrich begins to move away from practical advice to a rationalization of MoveOn.Org's tactics.
But attacking the General who oozes courage, fortitude and decency?
That’s a bit trickier, to say the least. Barack Obama, commenting/questioning the general about the options in Iraq, noted that there aren’t any good ones, only bad and worse ones. He might also have been describing his own situation, not to mention his friend Hillary’s.
There’s no question what the Left wants. Why don’t these guys (and girls) have any courage, a very left leaning friend demanded of me recently. Why aren’t they angry? Why don’t they start screaming bloody murder? Why don’t they demand that the troops start coming home NOW?In other words, "nyeh, nyeh, nyeh. they started it." Once again, someone on the Left hurls the lame argument that the kooks on their side are simply "fighting back" against the evil Republican noise machine. And if modern politics has become toxic, well, blame Karl Rove and his thugs, right? Lame.
That is, figuratively speaking, not only what MoveOn is doing, but what it is demanding. In his new book, “The Argument,” Matt Bai, after carefully researching MoveOn and other new generation Democratic activists and bloggers, concludes that what they are offering is not so much a new vision as a new strategy; that they are seeking to match the “right wing conspiracy,” which spews out faxes and statements every day, blogs on Drudge and speaks through Rush and Hannity, with a left-wing version, which spews just as much ink, blogs on Huffington, and speaks through Olberman.
You control fires by building new ones, or at least you meet fire with fire, and if we all end up in the rubble, you certainly can’t blame the people who fought back second rather the ones who started it first. The Left has, in a word, adopted the tactics of the right. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Certainly Estrich is still smarting from having her client "unfairly" stomped in the 1988 Presidential Election by George W. Bush's father. I can still see Jon Lovitz as Dukakis in a debate parody from that campaign season on Saturday Night Live "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy".
It's really as if she's saying, "I can't believe we're losing this debate on the war." Of course, it doesn't dawn on her that their position is unacceptable to the majority of Americans. In her mind the average American is just too stoooopid to grasp their sophisticated nuance. We're so bombarded by the right-wing media (as opposed to the more pervasive left-wing media) that the Democrats just can't make us understand. This arrogance blinds them from any objectivity.
When her "left leaning friend" asks "Why aren’t they angry? Why don’t they start screaming bloody murder? Why don’t they demand that the troops start coming home NOW?", the answer is simple: because they aren't so heavily invested in the failure of a Presidency. They might not like the war but they aren't suffering from Bush-Derangement Syndrome. The American people want this war to be over. We all do. But the majority of them understand the consequences of quitting for the sake of quitting. They're smart enough to trust in the men and women who giving their all to bring Iraq to a stable and workable resolution.
They don't care which political party is going to get the credit or the blame for what happens. They just want the best possible outcome for the county and for our military.
Cautioning against attacking General Petraeus is good advice from an experienced political pundit. But I don't believe that Estrich really sees MoveOn.org's latest for what it is. She says this strategy is "trickier" than attacking the President. Tricky but not irresponsible or reprehensible. Or even ill-advised for that matter. She writes: "The risk for Democrats is that those who take him on will be seen as naïve or weak or beholden to the Cindy Sheehans, which is not a direct route to the Oval Office."
Actually, the risk for Democrats is that general election voters will figure out that their party cares more scoring political points against a lame-duck President than they do about the men and women who where the uniform.
Confession is good for the soul
Forward Operating Base LMC got a new Catholic chaplain in early August. This fellow is young, fired up, and definitely not the type to deliver homilies sprinkled with Hallmark greeting-card platitudes. He has been driving home the importance of taking advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation regularly and ends the Mass with: "I am always available for confession!"
Now "regularly" to me usually meant yearly (if not occasionally decennially). The chaplain observed yesterday the late John Paul II advised going to confession at least weekly and certainly no less than monthly. In the chaplain's way of seeing it-the soul is like a car and requires regular care and maintenance. That finally got me off my duff and in to see him after Mass was over.
The priest's method of administering the sacrament was different than any other--he had a very comprehensive list of questions. His method ensures nothing is missed and gives advice along the way for dealing with challenges in the future. I'll be back to see him in a few weeks, certainly no more than a month.
September 16, 2007
Gratuitous Toe-In-The-Tiber Posting
Went round to the local parish offices this afternoon and signed up for RCIA. Classes start this Wednesday. Apparently, I'm not the only Episcopalian refugee in the group.
YIPS from Steve-O: Lose Madonna, gain Robbo. Somewhere the Holy Father is cackling.
Excellent, Cardinal Smithers. Get me information on this Robbo the LLama.....
And yes, I've been scouring the intertubes for weeks finding just the right picture of the Pope to adorn this series.
Dress rehearsal for Tehran?
Speculation on what Israel's latest air raid means for the future of Iran's nuclear program. Via the fine folks at Hot Air.
The Thrilla in Vanilla
Doesn't get much better than that.....
UPDATE: It gets better: while the Baconator and Bubba the Hutt have never squared off against each wearing the Carmine Hose and the Pinstripes, the last time they did face each other was Game 7 of the 2001 World Series in which Clemens went down.
September 15, 2007
Mike Hargrove goes down
Literally. I mean, you think they'd make a mint off of the "Liberal Bee-Jays" jerseys and, umm, towels, alone.
Okay, I did a double take when I read this true-sports story. It's the perfect set-up for a sitcom: disgraced former President from Arkansas buys a baseball team in a hick town in the heartland. Hilarity ensues.... Get Burt Reynolds to be the president and Kathy Najimy as the Mayor of the town, and you've got gold.
September 14, 2007
Is it just me?
Or does Jason Giambi look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man?
Yips! from Robbo: A bad night in baseball. After watching the Sawx blow it, I flipped over to see the Nats drop one to the Braves in 13 innings. And the Marlins won last night as well. So the
SithYanks are 4.5 back and the Nats are only 1 ahead of the Marlins. These things I had to explain to a furiously indignant nine year old this morning. Oy.
Another 55 Questions Meme
Pinched from CalTechGirl. I'm doing this while waiting for the Missus, the Llama-ettes and my dinner to come home (not necessarily in that order of priority), so it may be a bit strange. Shoved below the fold:
1. Is your second toe longer than your first?
No, they're roughly the same. Is this an issue?
2. Do you have a favorite type of pen?
Do people still get all hepped up over Mont Blanc and Cross and the like? That all seems so 80's.
3. Look at your planner for March 14, what are you doing?
4. What color are your toenails usually?
Erm, toenail colored. Except when I drop heavy things on them, which I sometimes do.
5. What was the last thing you highlighted?
Oh, something from one of the umpteen cases I yank off of Westlaw every day, I suppose.
6. What color are your bedroom curtains?
No curtains. We have wooden blinds that are, well, wood-colored.
7. What color are the seats in your car?
Kind of a grayish, I suppose.
8. Have you ever had a black and white cat?
No, ours have always been tabbies of various hue. My brother had one, however.
9. What is the last thing you put a stamp on?
The only mail I actually put together myself these days are my Netflix returns, which are prepaid.
10. Do you know anyone who lives in Wyoming?
I'm surprised by the implication that anybody lives in Wyoming.
11. Why did you withdraw cash from the ATM the last time?
I've been married 14 years. You think I have a cash card?
12. Whose is the last baby that you held?
I can't remember, but I do recall that it was long after the Llama-ettes had passed that stage and I was panicky to remember what to do.
13. Unlucky #?
I've got problems with 33,413. Never liked it.
14. Do you like Cinnamon toothpaste?
Ew. Who comes up with these things?
15. What kind of car were you driving 2 years ago?
My Wrangler. It's an '03 that I bought new. I still have fewer than 25K miles on it.
16. Pick one: Miami Hurricanes or Florida Gators?
Don't care. The only team I like is Florida State because I like their cheer: "Whoo-Whooo-Whooo-Whooop Them Boys!"
17. Last time you went to Six Flags?
1983. And it was the original in Arlington, TX. And I know why it's called Six Flags.
18. Do you have any wallpaper in your house?
One of the first things we got rid of when we moved in.
19. Closest thing to you that is yellow?
An old nametag of one of the Llama-ettes, stuck on the bulletin board in front of me.
20. Last person to give you a business card?
I've asked Father M for one twice, but each time he claims he's just run out. Uh, huh.
21. Who is the last person you wrote a check to?
See #11 above.
22. Closest framed picture to you?
A box set of teh Llama-ettes, taken about five years ago. Tempus fugit, indeed.
23. Last time you had someone cook for you?
Weeknights I generally cook for myself, as the Missus and the Llama-ettes eat before I get home.
24. Have you ever applied for welfare?
25. How many emails do you have?
You mean addresses? Three.
26. Last time you received flowers?
27. Do you think the sanctity of marriage is meant for only a man & woman?
28. Do you play air guitar?
No, but I air conduct.
29. Has anyone ever proposed to you?
No, but she arranged my proposal to her.
30. Do you take anything in your coffee?
Milk or cream in the first cup o' the morning. After that, it's all black.
31. Do you have any Willow Tree figurines?
I don't even know what that means.
32. What is/was your high school's rival mascot?
I suppose our biggest rival back at Winston Churchill HS (home of the Chargers) were the Robert E. Lee Volunteers. But that was 25 years ago. Who knows now. (BTW, most of the kids in my school were so ignorant as to think a charger was some kind of dragon or sumpin'. I really hated high school.)
33. Last person you spoke to from high school?
Okay, here's a little story. I had my heart seriously broken by a girl I worshipped back in high school. Didn't see her until senior year in college, then again when she passed through London the year after that. She turned out to be dull as ditchwater. Let that be a lesson to you young'uns out there.
34. Last time you used hand sanitizer?
Do I look like a sissy?
35. Would you like to learn to play the drums?
Nah. And don't make that suggestion around my gels, either.
36. What color are the blinds in your living room?
Wood, like the rest of the house.
38. Last thing you read in the newspaper?
I stopped reading the papers. The WSJ has been begging me for some time to re-up. Really, the spectacle they're making of themselves is quite embarrassing. I reckon that if I hold out a bit longer, they'll pay me to subscribe.
39. What was the last pageant you attended?
40. What is the last place you bought pizza from?
Dominoes. So sue me.
41. Have you ever worn a crown?
The crew at the People's Glorious Soviet of Middletown CT used to travel by bus to Philly for the Dad Vails Regatta to cap off our spring season every year. On the way back, we'd stop in Cherry Hill NJ and load up on beer. The beer that was the first alchohol any of us had in many months. On one trip (so I'm told), I put a Budweiser carton on my head and loudly proclaimed myself the King of Beers.
42. What is the last thing you stapled?
Some attachments to a letter at work. You trust guv'mint secretaries to do things right at your peril.
43. Did you ever drink clear Pepsi?
Heck, I don't drink any soda.
44. Are you ticklish?
Yes. I mean, no. No. And don't ask to try me out.
45. Last time you saw fireworks?
When I bonked my skull poking around under in the cubby under the stairs earlier today. Yeeeoch.
46. Last time you had a Krispy Kreme doughnut?
I hate doughnuts.
47. Who is the last person that left you a message & you actually returned it?
Ahhhhh-hahahaha!!! Return a message? Never!
48. Last time you parked under a carport?
In all my years I cannot recall ever having parked under a carport.
49. Do you have a black dog?
No, no dog. Sniff. We used to have a Scottie when I was a kid. He bit everbody.
50 . Have you had your mid life crisis yet?
I believe I'm working on it now.
51. Are you an aunt or uncle?
Yep. One nephew, three nieces.
52. Who has the prettiest eyes that you know of?
The Llama-ettes have six of the most vivid blue eyes you've ever seen.
53. What kind of soap or body wash do you use?
Jeez, I dunno, it's just soap.
54. Do you remember Ugly Kid Joe?
55. Do you have a little black dress?
Well, I have a little black dinner jacket that needs a trip to the tailor's before I next appear in public wearing it.
Now where's that damn' food?
Gratuitous Sacred Musickal Posting (TM)
Llama reader Ron sends along this terrific article about Bennie XVI and liturgical musick:
With the Mass celebrated in the cathedral of Saint Stephen on Sunday, September 9, Benedict XVI revived a musical and liturgical tradition that had been interrupted for decades.
Within living memory, in fact, the last papal celebration accompanied by the complete performance – Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei – of a great polyphonic Mass dates back to 1985, with Mozart's "Krönungsmesse" conducted by Herbert von Karajan, in Saint Peter's. And the one before that goes all the way back to 1963. That Mass was also celebrated in Saint Peter's, and the composer selected was Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the dean of Roman polyphony in the sixteenth century.
This time, the Mass was celebrated in Vienna, and the composer was, rightly, Austria's Franz Joseph Haydn and his stupendous "Mariazeller Messe" of 1782, for chorus, soloists, and orchestra.
Gregorian chant also made an important return appearance in the papal Mass on September 9. During communion, the choir repeatedly sang the antiphon "Vovete," from the propers for that Sunday in the missal of the ancient rite, in alternation with verses from Psalm 76, also sung in Latin: "Make and keep vows to the Lord your God. May all present bring gifts to this awesome God, who checks the pride of princes, inspires awe among the kings of earth."
A musical critic would have given his highest praise to the splendid performance, conducted by Markus Landerer, the choirmaster at the cathedral of Vienna. But this was a Mass, and not a concert. And Benedict XVI imparted a clear lesson in this regard, on two successive occasions that Sunday.
At the Angelus, a few minutes after the end of the Mass, he began this way:
"It was a particularly beautiful experience this morning to celebrate the Lord’s Day with all of you in such a dignified and solemn manner, in the magnificent cathedral of Saint Stephen. The celebration of the Eucharist, carried out with due dignity, helps us to realize the immense grandeur of God’s gift to us in the Holy Mass, and fills us with deep joy. It is precisely in this way that we draw near to each other as well, and experience the joy of God. So I thank all those who, by their active contribution to the preparation of the liturgy or by their recollected participation in the sacred mysteries, created an atmosphere in which we truly felt God’s presence.
And that afternoon, in the monastery of Heiligenkreutz, where each day 80 Cistercian monks celebrate the divine office in pure Gregorian chant and entirely in Latin, he said:
"In the beauty of the liturgy, [...] wherever we join in singing, praising, exalting and worshipping God, a little bit of heaven will become present on earth. Truly it would not be presumptuous to say that, in a liturgy completely centred on God, we can see, in its rituals and chant, an image of eternity. [...] In all our efforts on behalf of the liturgy, the determining factor must always be our looking to God. We stand before God – he speaks to us and we speak to him. Whenever in our thinking we are only concerned about making the liturgy attractive, interesting and beautiful, the battle is already lost. Either it is Opus Dei, with God as its specific subject, or it is not. In the light of this, I ask you to celebrate the sacred liturgy with your gaze fixed on God within the communion of saints, the living Church of every time and place, so that it will truly be an expression of the sublime beauty of the God who has called men and women to be his friends."
Benedict XVI also told the monks of Heiligenkreutz: "A liturgy which no longer looks to God is already in its death throes." Haydn, a Catholic with a deep spirituality, was not far from this view of beauty in the Christian liturgy when he wrote at the end of each of his musical compositions, "Laus Deo," praise to God.
When in the Creed of the "Mariazeller Messe," the soloist intones "Et incarnatus est," and when the "Benedictus" is sung in the Sanctus, flashes of eternity truly break through. More than a thousand words, great liturgical music communicates the mystery of "He who comes in the name of the Lord," of the Word made flesh, of the bread that becomes the body of Jesus.
The liturgy that inspired Haydn – together with other great Christian composers – these sublime melodies, glimmering with theological joy, was the ancient, Tridentine liturgy: just the opposite of the "sense of staleness" that some associate with it. It is the liturgy that Benedict XVI wanted to preserve in its richness with the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum," on July 7, 2007, together with the modern rite he observed in the Mass in Vienna.
There is an old story about Haydn coming in for some criticism in his own day because his sacred music was considered by some to be too light-hearted. Haydn is supposed to have replied to the effect that he couldn't help it - that when his thoughts turned to God, he was filled with such joy that it just naturally came out in his music. Far from being a piece of cynical flippery (as some people read it), I've always thought this to be a pretty genuine statement of Haydn's belief, as well as a perfect example of his good humor. Evidently, Benedict thinks so as well. Didn't one of the Church Fathers say something to the effect that a prayer made in song is a prayer made twice?
UPDATE: What I do for my readers! I just went and pulled out my trusty biog of Haydn by H.C. Robbins Landon and dug up what Haydn told his biographer A.C. Dies in 1806 about composing his masses:
I prayed to God not like a miserable sinner in despair but calmly, slowly. In this I felt that an infinite God would surely have mercy on his finite creature, pardoning dust for being dust. These thoughts cheered me up. I experienced a sure joy so confident that as I wished to express the words of the prayer, I could not suppress my joy, but gave vent to my happy spirits and wrote above the miserere, etc. "Allegro".
Good old Papa!
UPDATE DEUX: The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that JP2 let Herbert von Karajan into St. Peter's. The musickal question of whether HvK was the best choice to let loose on Mozart (I would argue surely not) aside, the fact of the matter is that he was a Nazi back in the day. And not the 17 year old "I didn't know what I was doing and only joined for the cool uniform and because Fritz would have beat me if I didn't" variety, either. Go figure.
One Weird Night
One weird night a couple of weeks ago Pep got up in the middle of the night. He couldn't sleep so he started watching tv. Then I woke up. I was wide awake too for some reason, so I sat down to watch tv with him. It had to be 3am.
Pep flipped the channels around until he stopped on a show that made me blink, rub my fists in my eyes, and then blink twice more. A librarian-type gal was standing behind a counter covered with very exotic-looking um . . . "self-gratification devices." She held one up and ran down it's powers to please, in very general rapid-fire language. Nothing she said was too graphic - although she did use proper words for naughty bits. Then she plopped the first item on the counter and quickly took up another, which she also described with unstimulating words like "water-proof" and "needs 4 double-A batteries."
Pep and I looked at each other with our mouths hanging open. I mean sure, it is 2007 and all, but we're from North Carolina! And we live deep in the country of rural Ruraltown, Virginia. Neither of us had seen the LIKE on television before.
Truly, the two women showcasing the products looked like soccer moms. The were dressed in conservative casual tops and slacks. They wore hardly any makeup. None of the descriptions of their showcased items were salacious. The most inflammatory thing they said was "And this c**kring is very snug for men who prefer a tighter grip." Oh my!
The set looked worse than the one Kramar pulled out of the Dick Cavett's trash bin. It was a white curtain with colored lights shining on it, behind a lumpy brown sofa. The coffee table in front of the two sales librarians wasn't visible, but the three mismatched candle chimneys on it were. It looked like they'd decorated with stuff they found in the woods behind Big Lots.
One of the librarians kept saying "this model provides perennial stimulation." "Wow - the stimulation you experience with that one comes back every year" I thought with burgeoning awe. Then I realized she meant "perineal."
At one point she pulled out something that looked like a hydraulic pogo-stick. It was at least 6" in diameter and three feet long. Pep said "that one's a bong!" But he was wrong. So very wrong. It wasn't a bong. It was a "one-handed str*ker." She turned it on. It made a very loud train-like CHUNK-A CHUNK-A CHUNK-A noise as a piston inside the clear cylinder flexed like a cartoon gas-hose.
"OMG! What's the advantage of str*king with one hand?" I asked in a panic for any man foolhardy enough to bring this thing near his privates. "What is he doing with the other hand - eating potato chips?"
"That thing looks like something Tim the Tool Man would rig up in his garage" Pep said. "You crank that thing up and lights will dim all over the neighborhood."
"Yeah - they'll all see the lights brown out and hear that thing leaving the station and say 'Tim's shining his spanner again!' "
Before we got bored and flipped the channel to watch the 2nd worst Sean Connery movie in the world (more about that later) we surmised that this low-key pitch was for ladies who might need sleep aides you can't find in CVS. Two phone numbers were provided - one for men and another for women. We wanted to call each to see if the sales staff on the men's line talked all breathy and giggly. We feel sure they did.
Hmmmm...this is not good
Anxious customers of British bank Northern Rock rushed to withdraw their savings Friday, forming lengthy queues in front of branches after the lender was bailed out by the Bank of England. Shares in Northern Rock, which issued a profits warning on Friday, plunged 31.46 percent to 438 pence at the close, dragging the European banking sector lower as investors fretted over potential difficulties elsewhere.
The Bank of England (BoE) on Friday came to the rescue of Britain's fifth-biggest home loan provider, which said it was facing severe difficulties raising cash to cover its liabilities amid the ongoing global credit squeeze.
From London to Edinburgh, panicking customers were pictured on British television channels crowding outside Northern Rock branches to withdraw their savings.
"I have withdrawn all my money," said one worried customer who wished to remain anonymous outside a branch in Harrow, northwest London.
"I know everyone has been urged not to panic but I just felt safer moving the money somewhere else rather than worrying about Northern Rock's financial position over the next few days," she added.
Analysts forecast that the troubled bank was very unlikely to go bust despite the sight of queues in the street raising the spectre of a "bank run."
A bank run is when customers withdraw savings en masse because of fear a lender will become insolvent, which can force the bank into bankruptcy.
"Northern Rock's problems are a consequence of its particular reliance on the money markets to fund its mortgage activities," Global Insight economist Howard Archer said Friday.
"Furthermore, all of the indications are that it is in no danger of going bust and that it has a good quality loan book."
International ratings agencies Standard and Poor's and Fitch cut their ratings on the company and S and P warned of further downgrades if credit conditions worsened.
But S and P stressed that the bailout by the Bank of England "considerably strengthens Northern Rock's funding and liquidity."
Northern Rock, which is based in the city of Newcastle, northeast England, is the first major British financial institution to be severely hit by the credit crunch sparked by the US home loan crisis.
A global credit crunch erupted last month, sparked by a crisis in the US subprime, or high-risk, mortgage sector.
Banks became nervous about lending to each other because of fears about bad investments linked to US home loans, leading to a shortage of cash for lending purposes.
Central banks around the world have pumped billion of dollars of emergency funds into the banking sector to enable banks to continue normal lending practices.
The Bank of England said it had made available an unspecified amount of cash to Northern Rock in the form of a liquidity facility.
Worse, Mister Potter was able to buy out the department store and the trolley line company.
Where I'll be tonight (and by "be" I mean watching the stats computer because, like, I'm a dork)
Was this "the biggest Ella Fitzgerald. Ever." ????
Orenthal, Orenthal, Orenthal, repeat after me: Ocean's 11 was only a movie...
Cue the Barry White Music
Bill Belichick certainly is one busy dude
WUHAN, China -- Denmark demanded more answers Friday following a FIFA investigation into why two men with video cameras were hiding behind a two-way mirror in the team's meeting room.
The alleged spying happened Tuesday, the eve of Denmark's opening match against host China at the Women's World Cup . The men, who the team spokeswoman said were Chinese, were discovered a half-hour before Denmark was to hold a strategy meeting.
FIFA, soccer's world governing body, said late Wednesday that it had investigated and closed the matter. The Danish team was told that the men were not connected to any other teams, spokeswoman Pia Schou Nielsen said.
"It's still a lot of questions which haven't been answered," Nielsen told reporters. "We want to know who these men were, what were they doing there and what were they were needing the information for."
The team wanted Chinese authorities to follow up on their questions about the two men, who had been taken away by police. Officials in several departments of Wuhan police said Friday they were unclear on the case.
Our old pal INDCent Bill has hit the big time.
Busy about the house today, so I'm not really hanging around in front of the keyboard very much.
I did happen to notice that today is Sam "I vud like to haff seen Montana" Neill's birthday. I've always liked his acting, even in the goofier movies he's done (which, to be honest, seems to include most of them). If Wikipedia is to be believed, Neill was seriously considered to follow Roger Moore as Bond, but was kyboshed by Cubby Broccoli in favor of Timothy Dalton. And the rest, as they say, is history. ("Mr. Dalton? The shark tank is ready now.")
Yip! at you later.
This isn't going to end well
Chertoff's got a blog on an official DHS website.
My problem with this is not that he's got enough time or mental bandwidth to blog, but rather the satire possibilities of this now that you've got the template.
Give it 3 hours before the official Kitler (kitty Hitler for those who don't follow such things) parody to hit, followed closely on the heels of the Truther fake pages.
Well Played, Sir.
Rudy handled the MoveOn.org ad, "she who must not be named" and the NY Times quite deftly this week.
At a press availability in Atlanta, the former mayor lambasted critics of Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush's counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq. He attacked the antiwar MoveOn.org for an advertisement in Monday's New York Times that asked, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" He noted that the Times had sold the ad space to MoveOn at a discount rate. And he included Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton among those who question Petraeus's credibility.His ad is here (hit the "click here to view full ad..." option to push past the contribution pitch).
More, Giuliani upped the ante. He called upon the Times to sell him ad space at MoveOn's discount rate, which would allow him to run an ad of similar size praising Petraeus's efforts in Iraq. "We are going to ask the New York Times to allow us tomorrow to print an ad that will obviously take the opposite view," Giuliani said. "We believe, unlike Hillary Clinton, that General Petraeus is telling the truth."
This bold move is classic Giuliani. Hizzoner practices the politics of confrontation, in which he chooses a position and relentlessly pursues those who hold the opposite view. In this case, Giuliani's position is support for the war in Iraq and General Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy. And his opponents make up a trifecta of liberal bogeymen: MoveOn, the Times, and Clinton. By raising the stakes, Giuliani emphasizes to conservatives that he is on their side--something many are not quite ready to believe.
Ted Olson for AG
Harry Reid came out against him, so what more do you need to know he is the right man for the job? OpinionJournal's cut on it is here. The White House should put the nomination up, give it four weeks and if the Dems balk, give him a recess appointment at the first opportunity and be done with it.
In case you were wondering . . .
The current threat level:
Via Jen, formerly Jen Speaks.
September 13, 2007
Things that don't suck
H/t to Insty.
I tell ya, those Moonbat friends are good to keep around
Because occasionally they toss you a bone like this:
But don't mess with the 'tube version: go here, click on the widest your screen can accomodate, turn the sound all the way up, and bathe in the awesomeness.
All I can say is via con deos, Scott Peterson, you magnificent bastard!
WASHINGTON - Papa salmon plus mama salmon equals ... baby trout? Japanese researchers put a new spin on surrogate parenting as they engineered one fish species to produce another, in a quest to preserve endangered fish. Idaho scientists begin the next big step next month, trying to produce a type of salmon highly endangered in that state — the sockeye — this time using more plentiful trout as surrogate parents.
Dad and I used to go fishing for rainbows in Katmai Park in Alaska. We'd go during the height of the sockeye run when the Brooks River was literally jammed with spawning salmon. The rainbows were perfectly willing to gobble up any loose salmon egg they spotted, and indeed preferred a wet fly made out of a ball of hot-pink velour to any traditional dry fly. (Being a dry fly snob, I would catch very few, instead mostly bagging Arctic grayling.)
Did the scientists factor this possibility into their stocking plans, I wonder? I'm getting a whole Greek-tragedy unknowing cannibalism vibe out of all this.
More Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
Happy birthday to Major General "Uncle" John Sedgwick, born this day in 1813.
A solid commander much beloved by his troops, Sedgwick is best remembered now for the ironic circumstances of his death, which took place in the early stages of the Battle of Spotsylvania on May 9, 1864. Martin T. McMahon, Brevet Major-General, U.S.V.; Chief-of-Staff, Sixth Corps, who was with him, takes up the story:
I gave the necessary order to move the troops to the right, and as they rose to execute the movement the enemy opened a sprinkling fire, partly from sharp-shooters. As the bullets whistled by, some of the men dodged. The general said laughingly, " What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." A few seconds after, a man who had been separated from his regiment passed directly in front of the general, and at the same moment a sharp-shooter's bullet passed with a long shrill whistle very close, and the soldier, who was then just in front of the general, dodged to the ground. The general touched him gently with his foot, and said, " Why, my man, I am ashamed of you, dodging that way," and repeated the remark, " They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." The man rose and saluted and said good-naturedly, " General, I dodged a shell once, and if I hadn't, it would have taken my head off. I believe in dodging." The general laughed and replied, "All right, my man; go to your place."
For a third time the same shrill whistle, closing with a dull, heavy stroke, interrupted our talk; when, as I was about to resume, the general's face turned slowly to me, the blood spurting from his left cheek under the eye im a steady stream. He fell in my direction ; I was so close to him that my effort to support him failed, and I fell with him.
Colonel Charles H. Tompkins, chief of the artillery, standing a few feet away, heard my exclamation as the general fell, and, turning, shouted to his brigade-surgeon, Dr. Ohlenschlager. Major Charles A. Whittier, Major T. W. Hyde; and Lieutenant Colonel Kent, who had been grouped near by, surrounded the general as he lay. A smile remained upon his lips but he did not speak. The doctor poured water from a canteen over the general's face. The blood still poured upward in a little fountain. The men in the long line of rifle-pits, retaining their places from force of discipline, were all kneeling with heads raised and faces turned toward the scene ; for the news had already passed along the line.
Random Google Triumph of the Day
Your humble LLamas, number two on google for
Coast Guard Academy scandal
Semper Yiparatus, bay-bee!
Why I Love Llama Nation, Reason # 452, 352
I think it's fair to say that today is the kind of day that defines Llama posting. Just scroll on down and you'll see what I mean.
I was talking (in real voices and everything) with Steve-O the other day and he suggested that instead of messing about with another blog, I go ahead and post this whole crossing-the-Tiber thing right'cheer.
Heck, why not? It'll add the flavah of smells n' bells to the mix.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
Death of Wolfe by Benjamin West
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, in which the British forces besieging the French at Quebec staged a daring assault up a narrow path running from the clifftops to the St. Lawrence River, formed up on the plains above and defeated the French in battle before the walls of the city. A few days later, Quebec surrendered to the British.
The British were led by the dashing young commander Major General James Wolfe, the French by the seasoned Marquis de Montcalm. Both leaders were killed in the battle.
While hostilities in Canada did not end until the Marquis de Vaudreuil surrendered Montreal to three converging British armies in September 1760, and the Treaty of Paris officially ending the war was not concluded until 1763, the loss of Quebec essentially killed any French hope of maintaining their colonial possession.
As I always do when posting about the French & Indian War, without the knowledge of which one cannot possibly understand the events that were to engulf the American colonies a decade later, I make here a couple of book recommendations:
First, one absolutely must start with that incomperable giant among 19th Century historians, Francis Parkman. His Montcalm and Wolfe: The French and Indian War is part of a longer study of the entire history of Anglo-French struggle for North America, but is a good place to jump in. Then, go on to his The Conspiracy of Pontiac, the story of how the Brits (as we would say now) "won the war but lost the peace" by failing to squash the Indian uprising that occurred almost immediately after the sesession of European hostilities. (If you buy this volume, you also get Parkman's interesting account of his own travels on the frontier via the Oregon Trail.)
If you want a modern writer, I can't recommend too highly Fred Anderson. His Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America 1754-1766 makes a terrific companion to Parkman's work, in that he folds in much more of the overall geopolitical situation. Having recently read it, I can also recommend his A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War for its exploration of what might be called the Colonial Mentality - one almost unknown and incomprehensible in London.
Finally, I'd again recommend Fintan O'Toole's White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America. Johnson doesn't make it into history very much these days, but in addition to becoming something of a military hero at the Battle of Lake George in 1755, he more importantly rose to become the Crown's most valuable Indian Agent in the Northern colonies. If you can get past the psycho-babble about his Irish roots giving him an inherent sympathy for the Indians, it's a remarkable story. (BTW, in West's painting above, I believe that is supposed to be Johnson in the green jacket and buckskins on the left, pointing behind himself.)
UPDATE: This is just the sort of thing I should be cross-posting over at The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls, but I can't find my @#(*$ keys.
"Leave Britney Alone"
Half of the readers may have already been emailed this but this is just too bizarre not to share.
Britney Spears' biggest fan is not happy with you nit-pickers (language warning!):
Since nobody asked, I'll through in my two cents.
1) I find it fascinating that someone could get this upset over a complete stranger. Certainly fans feel a connection to a performer, actor or other famous person that they like because they're all over the media. But at what point does a person lose sight of the reality that this connection is based on nothing, really? I'd think that if Britney Spears were to watch this, she'd be touched. For about ten seconds. Then she'd be a little freaked out.
2) I watched the clip from the VMAs. Britney was listless and her performance kind of sloppy and uninspired (as was most of the music honored at the Video Music Awards) but I have to say that our culture's standards for what is considered fat are way out of proportion with reality. She still looked purty darn good to me.
Yips! from Robbo: Mr. Atoz over at Agent Bedhead has teh funniest, coffee-snarf-inducing comment I've seen so far. Go on over, but you've been warned.
The fix is in, bay-bee!
The presidential race is heating up for sure: and by that I mean the epic struggle for the honor to be the first elected President of Red Sox Nation.
Our old pal and moonbat nemisis LB Buddy is in fine form, and is smelling conspiracy. Let's cut to the IM tape for details:
Yes folks, the fix is in, but not because of Rove, diebold, or the Chimperor: let's face it, this is Massachuestts we're talking about, and the winner is going to be......disgraced incognito gangster and brother of the former head of the state senate James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger (the model for Jack Nicholson's character in The Departed).
You know it's going to happen, Shawn.
About as predictable as Pete Doherty winding up in rehab with Courtney Love
And about as exciting: Mark Warner is running for John Warner's soon to be vacated Senate seat.
Warner's a decent guy, and I'm still a little perplexed on why he didn't run for President. But it will be hard for the Republicans to beat Mark Warner next fall.
The Secret Lives of Teachers
Today's LLama Reading Recommendation is "The Secret Lives of Teachers" by Rob Wilder. I've just recently found his essays which he writes for local newspapers in New Mexico---consider him a transplanted Yankee chilling in the desert, kind of like James Lileks minus the Minnesotaean sturdiness (as well as the obsessive compulsive pop culturisms). I'm ordering his "Daddy Needs a Drink" from the Devil's Bookstore today.
Plugola alert: I went to college with Rob, and we were in the same fraternity for a year (before I quit the house), and while we certainly didn't move in the same circles, it's always fun to see someone you knew from way back who you haven't thought about in decades doing something fun and different.
Random Commuter Observation
First morning in a loooooong time when not only has it been cool enough for me to wear a suit instead of a blazer & khakis, it's also been pleasant enough for me to keep my jacket on for the walk between the metro and my office.
September 12, 2007
David Ortiz singlehandedly carries the Sawx to Victory
One night, 5 RBIs, two dingers, one in the bottom of the ninth.
Thank you, big fella.
UPDATE: Yes, our many regular readers who suffer under the disease of Yankee fandom have pointed out that Tampa Bay has the worst record in the majors. Ayy-yup. At this point of the season, a win is a win.
Dumb ass school administrator of the day
Seriously, what the heck is this guy thinking?
Watch your back, Robbo
Robbo---Dude, you're famous!
I'd be careful before Bishop Lee tries to go all St. Thomas Moore on your Catholic arse.
But hey, I'd sell you out if they made me the Chancellor of Wales....
Yips! from Robbo: Yes, I've been watching the sitemeter spike from that link. I highly recommend that you go over and check out the comment thread, where passions appear to be up.
In the kitchen with Steve-O the LLamabutcher
So lately Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are the nights for me to do the family dinner cooking. Now I can hear the clucking already---this is not one of those households where when it's Dad's turn to cook, it means take out pizza. Au contraire, my doubting fiendish friend.
So late yesterday afternoon, I stared at the fridge and the cupboard and let my mind roam. We've got a big thing of skinlees chicken breasts. We've got a lot of cans of navy beans, and cans of corn. We've got a lot of romaine lettuce from the garden, and---here's the wild card---a heap o' sweet potatoes from my desire to get in touch with my Irish, umm, roots, and plant a couple of varieties of potatoes in the garden.
Add that together in my mind and out popped "Steve-O's Super Orange Baked Chicken and Succotash, together with a nice salad."
First step is the baked chicken. Now I'm sure you're asking yourself, "Dave, is Steve-O really going to reveal his family's secret for making Super Orange Baked Chicken? Because I have had it, and daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn it's good!" And my answer to you would be yes, I'm going to do it. My Moms is going to kill me, but here's the critical sooper sekrit part of the recipe:
Yes, it's Cheez-Itz. You get about one big handful per person that you are feeding and put it in a freezer bag, zip it up, and treat that bag like it's a Code Pink protester in a VFW Hall that's run out of beer on Patton's Birthday. When it's ground to a fine dust, mix in a little bit of garlic powder (I recommend that from Chez Kroeger), and, if you want to be super fancy (which, if you have read this far, the answer is "but of course"), cut up some fresh basil leaves. Dip the cleaned chicken breasts in milk, and put them in the bag with the Cheez-Itz powder, then lay out the breasts in a pan with a little bit of olive oil and a little bit of white wine. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.
The succotash is easy. I started with some fresh sweet potatoes dug right out of the garden.
Cleaned, and then thinly sliced, and then sauted---not fried---till soft and barely crisp. Remove, and saute an onion, mixing a little paprika. When they are soft, add a drained can of beans---I used Navy Beans, but you could use great northern or another white bean because, let's face it, aint no one in this house eating lima beans so it isn't worth the effort---and a can of corn (I used a "fiesta" can that already had little green pepper bits in it). Let it simmer, well stirred, adding the potatoes back in.
Sheila Made Me Do It
Sheila challenged everyone this way:
Go to the advanced book search on Amazon, type your first name into the Title field, and post the most interesting/amusing cover that shows up.
Annnnnnnd here's mine:
Yips! from Robbo:
The story of my bachelor days.
The 25 things every guy should know how to do
1. Patch a radiator hose 2. Protect your computer 3. Rescue a boater who as capsized 4. Frame a wall 5. Retouch digital photos 6. Back up a trailer 7. Build a campfire 8. Fix a dead outlet 9. Navigate with a map and compass 10. Use a torque wrench 11. Sharpen a knife 12. Perform CPR 13. Fillet a fish 14. Maneuver a car out of a skid 15. Get a car unstuck 16. Back up data 17. Paint a room 18. Mix concrete 19. Clean a bolt-action rifle 20. Change oil and filter 21. Hook up an HDTV 22. Bleed brakes 23. Paddle a canoe 24. Fix a bike flat 25. Extend your wireless network
This actually had me feeling good, as the the things on the list that I haven't done or don't want to necessarily do are 8, 21, and 22. I'm not particularly confident with the wall framing, but I've done it, so there it is. I don't like playing with electricity---insert Dana Carvey voice here, thinking it's bad, bad. I was apprehensive before the list: I'm currently at war with my garbage disposal, and it's the unholy union of electricity and real sharp things. I have a caveman's fear of the garbage disposal, and it's quite amusing to my wife. I noticed also the stunning absence of plumbing from the list, which is something else I'm more than willing to pay someone else to have it done right. We have to replace the inner workings of our two tanks upstairs, as the plastic components are plum worn out.
And let me just offer a shoutout to my homies in the Boy Scouts---my map and compass skillz are MAD! MAD, I say!
I'm also completely surprised over the absence of knowledge of how to defend yourself from a bear attack. But with the list being composed by InstaGlenn himself, I'm more surprised there wasn't a skill on there for how to carve your own set of emergency back-up Dungeons and Dragons dice using a plastic knife and components scrounged from the customer area of a Panera Bread.
UPDATE: Okay, the bear attack link deserves its own embed. You can guess how punchy I am to be posting this:
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
Today is the anniversary (in 1683) of the Battle of Vienna, the highwater mark of the Ottoman Turkish invasion of Europe. The city itself had been besieged by the Turk since July of that year and was near to giving in. During that time a coaltion of European forces hastily assembled to rush to its aid. The battle was capped by a genuine heavy cavalry charge led by the Polish King Jan Sobieski that caught the Turks by surprise and caused them to retreat in panic.
(I think of this episode every time I read of the lifting of the siege of Minas Tirith by the Rohirrim. Well, I do. And no, I'm not suggesting that the Turks were like orcs. It's just the whole romance of the last minute arrival of the relief expedition.)
This battle is seen as the turning point in the Turkish attempt to conquer Europe. Although there was more fighting to come, the tide from this date flowed east, not west, and the Turks were eventually pushed back across the Danube.
(Alas, the old story that the croissant was invented by Viennese bakers in honor of the victory - the shape resembling the Turkish crescent - appears to be a myth, or at least an unprovable folktale.)
BTW, when I first posted this entry two years ago (yes, I'm not ashamed to recycle interesting material), regular commenter Utron recommended a book: The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee by Stewart Lee Allen. He mentioned it because it also related the original croissant story (without any backup sources), but I found it interesting because of another theory it postulates, namely that the introduction of coffee into Europe was the cause of the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution and other manifestations of Continental energy, as people stopped sousing themselves all day with small beer and instead started firing up the ol' noodle with cups o' joe. Again, I don't believe the author provided any particular sources for this proposition, but I'm still intrigued by what one might call the beverage theory of history.
Longtime blogger of all things Beacon Hill, Back Bay and beyond the Irish Elk has joined that veritable combination of Quorn and Pytchley of the blogsphere, Patum Peperium, presided over Aunt Dahlia-like by the fabulously formidable Mrs. P.
Personally, I think this is an excellent move. My only advice to the I.E. would be not to let Mrs. P catch him heading hounds or not sneaking swigs out of the whiskey decanter.
Oh, and speaking of doing the fox a bit of no good, here's a little nugget I just discovered, only marginally related to the main point of this post and probably of absolutely no interest to anybody but me, and therefore subject to mandatory publication under Robbo's Rules of Blogging: There was an entire Hunt Class of WWII Royal Navy destroyers, each named after a different Hunt. They included: HMS Atherstone, HMS Berkeley, HMS Cattistock, HMS Cleveland, HMS Cotswold, HMS Cottesmore, HMS Eglinton, HMS Exmoor, HMS Fernie, HMS Garth, HMS Hambledon, HMS Holderness, HMS Mendip, HMS Meynell, HMS Pytchley, HMS Quantock, HMS Quorn, HMS Southdown, HMS Tynedale and HMS Whaddon.
Yoicks! Not to mention tantivy and hark forrard!
Putin's shakeup shaking up "Bumping Uglies for Russia" Day
President Vladimir Putin dissolved Russia's government Wednesday and then quickly nominates Viktor Zubkov, a Russian Cabinet official who oversees the fight against money laundering, to be the new prime minister.
Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the State Duma, said Putin nominated Zubkov, who heads the Federal Financial Monitoring Service and who served under Putin when the two worked in the city administration of St. Petersburg in the early 1990s.
Earlier Wednesday, in a major political shakeup, Putin dismissed Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and dissolved his cabinet, paving the way for Putin to name a new head of government.
Most observers had expected that the new premier would be the leading contender to succeed Putin when he steps down after March elections.
But Zubkov had not been even considered as a contender.
A Kremlin source told FOX News that Zubkov was not Putin's choice to be the next president of Russia.
Killer Bees Come To N'awlins
African "killer" bees are being reported as "descending" upon the city of New Orleans.
1) Wasn't this the same strain of killer bees that everybody was screaming about in the 1970's and inspired an awful disaster movie?
2) How long will it take the moonbats to find a way to blame all of this on a) Bush, b) Climate Change or c) Both?
"Cool History/Lit Geek" I'll take.
Yips! to Cool Nerd God Maximum Leader. (And as a Cool History/Lit Geek, I heartily approve of the little Nimitzian riff at the end of his post.)
NERDOLICIOUS YIPS from Steve-O: There should really be a bonus round question with this quiz, "are you going to post the results proudly to your blog?" And if the answer is yes, you get a free Donkey Kong pinata or something.
All bow before my Nerdific Awe Inducing Throne!
Why sometimes a good card game and a glass of whine is the appropriate response to the end of the world
Last night, I had the Red Sox game on the computer---I "watch" the games on the MLB website "gameday" as it throws up the stats in real time. It has a really cool animation for the pitches, showing their precise locations & velocities and stuff. It's a seamhead wet dream, and it's free.
Anyhoo, the Sox were getting blown out by the freakin' Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 8-1, after losing the night before 1-0. Tarnation. So, I did what any sane Sawx fan should do in such a situation: go upstairs, pour a glass of wine, and play a game of war with the 8 yr. old. It was his favorite deck of cards that I picked up in Dee Cee at Union Station, and has all sorts of personages from US history on it. We've come up with a whole elaborate set of nicknames for them (the three of spades is Peter Stuyvesant , known affectionately as "Peg Leg Pete"), and so we had a rousing game where Dolley Madison, the queen of spades, thoroughly kicked ass, before eventually being taken repeatedly by Chief Red Cloud, the King of Hearts. Whenever he won a trick, the boy had to cite some vaguely true historic fact about any card of mine that he took, so that was a lot of fun. By the time it was bedtime, the Sox were winning 15-8. Good times.
Yips! from Robbo: Oddly enough, I was watching the Nats get blown out by the Marlines 13-8 last evening. The Marlins got 21 hits. 21. And I have never seen such a collection of dinks, drubs and broken-bat bloops in all my life. Sheesh.
Unfortunately, everybody else was asleep, so I had no companionship with which to allay my woes. Instead I flipped over to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home on HBO (that's the one which puts the crew of the Enterprise in San Francisco in the mid 80's) and amused myself by jeering at all the outdated politics. Did you know that in the Trek world, there's still a city called Leningrad in the 24th Century?
Nothing to see here, nothing, move along
Hillary's fundraising scandal is getting even more interesting. I can think of forty million reasons why the MSM is going to want to shy even more away from this story.
September 11, 2007
Remind me not to piss this guy off
Yo, Poles (aka long time commentator TDP, my former college roomie), be happy I never tried this one on you:
Name that holiday
Russia's new national holiday needs a catchy name: any ideas?
Bonus points if you can work in a reference to Vlad "the Impaler" Putin.
Grabbing The Bull By The...
Now maybe it's because I've lived my whole life in Connecticut where college sports teams are not really all that big a deal, but this is just insane.
According to police, 32-year-old Texas fan Brian Christopher Thomas walked into Henry Hudson’s Pub on June 17 wearing a Longhorns T-shirt and quickly became the focus of football “trash talk” from another regular, 53-year-old Oklahoma fan Allen Michael Beckett.Egads! I mean, really, WTF?
Thomas told police that when he decided to leave and went to the bar to pay his tab, Beckett grabbed him in the crotch, pulled him to the ground and wouldn’t let go, even as bar patrons tried to break it up. When the two men were separated, Thomas looked down and realized the extent of his injuries.
“He could see both of his testicles hanging on the outside of his body,” said Thomas’ attorney, Carl Hughes. “He was wearing a pair of white shorts, which made it that much worse.”
It took more than 60 stitches to close the wound, and police interviewed Thomas at a nearby hospital emergency room.
Just Pretend Its Friday
This is the kind of post I'd normally save for a Friday, but somehow there's a Friday sort of air in this building today. Maybe its because we're getting new - I mean ALL NEW think-leather-club-chairs - furniture this week. Maybe its because it actually rained here in the desert of central Virginia for once today. For whatever reason, its a Friday sort of Tuesday and so I'll share with you my recent trip to House of Blues.
Just a couple of months ago my pals and I went to HoB in Myrtle Beach to see the B-52s. The show was too short but way fun. We bopped and sang along and it was great. But this isn't a review of the show so much as a review of HoB.
The place is gigantic and completely sheathed in rusted, corrugated roofing. As we drove up my first thought was "It looks like Porky's." (Didn't Porky's look kind off like that? Anybody?)
Anyway - The gates that lead inside are completely covered in outsider art-type paintings. Inside, practically every surface is painted, hobnailed, bottle capped or hung with outsider art. It is glorious!!! Everywhere you look there are funky, naive artistic details that delighted me beyond words.
One set of doors leading outside is trimmed in men's wingtips. Every shoe has been painted with doodles and stars and lined with glitter. Women's shoes, similarly decorated, ring the recessed light fixtures on the ceiling.
Even the bathrooms are crowded with art on the ceiling, art on the support columns, art on the doors. And - to be honest with you - its the bathrooms I want to discuss.
I can only speak about the women's of course, but the women's bathrooms at HoB are rockin. I say this for one reason only. The counter behind the sinks in the women's bathroom is wall-to-faucet packed with aerosol bottles of AquaNet, Suave and Rave hair sprays. It's all the cheap stuff your mama's cousin used to keep her flip or her beehive in place back in the 60's.
There are also baskets of feminine supplies and candy on the counter. Of course if you use any of this stuff you're expected to drop some folding money in the tray for the attendant.
Attendant? Yes mam! There's a lady there - only on weekends I'm told - who wants some money for handing you a paper towel. Well, I reckon I can git my own paper towel, thanks!
Now - I'm not being stingy. I would have been happy to pay Queen Latifah for my paper towel except for one small thing. It was her patter.
She was hollerin' "Pee an' leave ladies! Pee an' leave!!! They's a lot of gals out here who need to go. Let's keep it movin'! Pee an' leave!!!!"
Looking back on it - I probably should have paid her for that. It was annoying at the time but now in the cool of the evening, I'm thinking there will probably be a time and place in the future when I will want to pull out the patter from the Pee Nazi at the House of Blues and get things moving in some other crowded bathroom situation.
Queen Latifah Pee Nazi - I bow to your awesomeness.
Not Trying Hard Enough
We Llamas are only No. 7 for Google hits for sock puppet singing Figaro.
Evidently, more gratuitous musickal posting is called for.
UPDATE: In the meantime, before we get into Se vuol l'argyle, Signor Contino, how about an Italian lesson?
What? You want we should go back to zombies? How about zombie sock-puppets? Operatic zombie sock-puppets! That would cross a few frontiers, I reckon.
You didn't have to be Richard Posner to figure this one out
Freaky-deaky science breakthrough of the day
UPDATE: I've just realized I've riffed two straight Instapundit links, but I swear I didn't get them from Glenn. Great minds, right? (Or more like, great mind meets highly derivative web monkey mind).
UBER META FREAKY DEAKY CONNECTION, MAN! (You've got to say that in your best Dennis Hopper voice to make it work)
Here's the Ur-text for today at the LLamas--the connection between Zombies, idiot truthers, and carrying the mantle for INDC Bill while he's humping it at Club Anbar.
Where else but San Francisco?
How can we possibly ever win this when we've lost the support of the critical "grown men wearing Spider Man underoos in public" constituency?
Although I would like to see the black and white version of this, with a bunch of truthers dressed in superhero costumes parading around singing "Pearl Harbor was an inside job" only to end up swinging from a rope in the town square, Norman Rockwell moms looking on in smiling support.
Here's your alternative history question to ponder
Colin Powell elected president in 1996.
There was actually an interesting angle on this in the novel I just finished reading World War Z. WWZ is a fascinating work of alt-history that stands right up there with Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Where Roth takes the genre of memoir, and tells the story of his childhood growing up in Jewish lower-middle class neighborhood in north Jersey, but gives it the twist of Charles Lindberg being elected president on a Hitler-sympathetic platform in 1940, World War Z takes the genre of the Ken Burns-style documentary narrative, and tells the story of.....the world war against zombies. Okay, I lost some of you right out of the gate with the mention of Zombies (or "Zachs" as the soldiers refer to them), but WWZ is not some pulp zombie horror mashup. It's a cautionary tale about globalization, information war, overreliance on technology, environmental degredation, and loss of common sense and practical survival skills. The story is told looking back on the Zombie Wars ten years after victory was "declared." The narrator interviews a wide variety of survivors who played instrumental roles in the war, from the Chinese military doctor who treated "Patient Zero" from a supplanted village near the Three Gorges Dam resevoir, to the Australian astronaut left stranded on the international space station, to an American soldier who fought in critical engagements, to ordinary people who survived the horrors of the Great Panic and learned how to fight back against an enemy with no remorse. The author nicely eschews falling for a War of the Worlds answer: there is no "cure" for the virus that causes the dead to rise, and, ten years later, they haven't figured out exactly how the virus works, or what could be a "cure" for it other than destroying the brain of the infected. The plague spreads in a way that would be totally unsurprising to anyone who has read "The World Is Flat" and is only pushed back when different nations each fix on a Rourke's Drift style strategy. Colin Powell is alluded to (not by name) as the man who becomes president during the crisis, and aquits himself nobly. The image alone of the zombies attacking out of the water alone gave me the creeps three nights straight.
Definitely a Three Orgles read.
BRAINS.....BRAINS....YIPS from Steve-O: Holy crap, but The Colossus has had Zombies on his, um, brain for quite awhile now.
Your Morning Cup of Joe-Mentum
Lieberman on Iraq and the War on Terror: Not a battle between civilizations, but a battle for civilization:
As Ronald Reagan once said, now is the time for choosing. If we stand united through the months ahead, if we stand firm against the terrorists who want to drive us to retreat, the war in Iraq can be won and the lives of millions of people can be saved. But if we surrender to the barbarism of suicide bombers and abandon the heart of the Middle East to fanatics and killers, to Al Qaeda and Iran, then all that our men and women in uniform have fought, and died for, will be lost, and we will be left a much less secure and free nation.
That is the choice we in Washington will make this fall. It is a choice not just about our foreign policy and our national security and our interests in the Middle East. It is about what our political leaders in both parties are prepared to stand for. It is about our soul as a nation. It is about who we are, and who we want to be.
Will this be the moment in history when America gives up — when al Qaeda breaks our will, when our enemies surge forward, when we turn our backs on our friends and begin a long retreat from our principles and promise as a nation? Or will this be the moment when America steps forward, when we pull together, when we hold fast to the courage of our convictions, when we begin to turn the tide toward victory in this long and difficult war?
History tells us that appeasement of evil leads to disaster. Our cause is freedom’s cause. Together, we must prevail.
Read it all.
Not-So-Random Commuter Observations
I drove to work in the rain today. It wasn't a steady downpour but rather one of those intermittent showers where you end up turning your windshield wipers on and off. But it was raw and unpleasant.
One of the things about this day six years ago that I will always remember was how beautiful a day it was in the NY-metro area. My seat at work at the time had a window and I remember looking out at the clear, blue and cloudless sky as the reports came in about the attacks. I stared out that window a lot that morning because I didn't what else to do.
Today also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Fourteen years with the best woman I could have ever hoped to wed. The merging of these two anniversaries is bittersweet. And how those fourteen years seem to have flashed by in the blink of an eye.
And yet that particular day six years past seems so long ago.
Remember the innocent people just like you and me who went off to work that day and never came home. Remember the men and women who raced into danger, knowing full well that they might never escape it. Remember their families for whom this anniversary is the most painful.
And no matter how long ago it seems, always remember.
Et tu, Josephus?
OpinionJournal calls on Biden to repudiate the MoveOn.org swipe at Petraeus.
September 10, 2007
Words are meaningless, and forgettable...words are very, unnecessary, they can only do harm
A-double-Lizzle aint going to like this
The big A's going to be moaning about this one: Apple's offering store credit of seven grand to customers---if they can produce an original proof of purchase and receipt for the Apple Lisa:
Early adopters of the iPhone weren't the only ones receiving in-store credit from Steve Jobs. In an overlooked announcement, Jobs said that early adopters of the Apple Lisa would be receiving a $7000 in-store credit.
Apple released the Lisa in January of 1983 for $9,995, and the similar Macintosh was released a year later for $2,495.
"I've felt bad about people who bought the Lisa for a long time. Anybody who bought one of the first Apple Lisas really got screwed," said Jobs. "Now that we've got some cash, I think it's about time we made it right."
People interested in the refund will need to bring in an original receipt showing they bought the Lisa in 1983 and proof of purchase from the Apple Lisa box.
The article goes on to point out this might create a bit of a problem for Apple, as disgruntled early-adopters of the Newton and the Apple III might get their pocket protectors in a twist and demand refunds of their own.
D'OH! Too good to be true, my friends.
Can you transcend the five close friend rule?
An interesting debate about whether social networking sites are in fact changing the nature of friendship, or whether it's just a load of spank.
I would say that Robbo's much better at this than I am, in that I've only developed two real world friends from doing the LLamas that I've actually, like, met and stuff--I'm much more hesitant about putting actual faces to online personas than my better blogging half.
That said, if I could finagle a way to get Cath the Cake Eater (and the Hubby), the Colossus, Groovy Vic, Jordana, Agent Bed Head, Phinneas, INDC Bill, Dr. Rusty, Prof. Chaos, Gary, LMC, Bobbgirl, Sobek, and Robbo (plus our lurker commentators) together for one night in Vegas, I'd certainly do it. But, what can I say, I'm lazy as all get out.
Battlestar Galactica---Robot Chicken Edition
This is for all the fanboyz out there:
Can You Dig It?
This is interesting - The Great Escape tunnels greater than thought.
It seems that Tom, Dick and Harry were just one component of the underground activity among the prisoners of war at Stalag Luft III:
Far from just the three tunnels - Tom, Dick and Harry - made famous in the classic film, archeologists at Stalag Luft III in Zagan, Poland, have found more than 100 attempted escape routes. The discovery is powerful evidence that Allied prisoners, led on the big screen by Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen, consistently refused to accept their incarceration.
Prisoners, the majority of whom were bright young air force officers aware of their importance to the Allied war effort, faced execution if they were caught trying to escape.
In March 1944, of the 76 Allies who did get out of the camp in the escape that inspired the film, only three made it to safety. The rest were recaptured and 50 were executed by the Gestapo.
Guards discovered two of the three tunnels, Tom and Harry, prompting the prisoners to concentrate their efforts on the third, which eventually came up just short of the forest that would provide vital cover.
But the full extent of how many underground escape routes were being created has remained undiscovered for 60 years until now, after archeologists from Keele University and University College London (UCL) used ground penetrating radar on the site.
The scientists are excavating the remains of Dick, after locating the entrance shaft to the famous tunnel.
Inside they found remnants of an escape kit featuring an attaché case containing a civilian coat, fragments of a German language book, buttons, thread, a toothbrush, a marble and a draughts piece.
Empty Red Cross milk cans had been used to construct a basic ventilation system in the shaft.
Peter Doyle, a consultant geologist and visiting professor at UCL, said the camp at any one time could have contained up to 10,000 men. Around one third of them would have been digging tunnels, and another third helping, he said.
"It was a huge operation. There are different types of tunnels. There are deep, extensive tunnels which are obviously aimed at getting out a large number of men.
"But there are also shorter, more opportunistic tunnels.
"It really was a hotbed of escape activity. It was a continuing battle against the Germans."
Indy 4 Title Official
If they stole Robbo's line and called it "Indiana Jones and St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method" I couldn't be more bemused.
Although at nine words, it's definitely the longest title in the series (beating out "Temple of Doom" which was seven).
Meh. This one is probably going to have to work the hardest to live up the hype than either of the other two sequels.
Yips! from Robbo: I'm still thinking along the lines of -
Indiana Jones and the Lost AARP Discount
Raiders of the Early-Bird Special
Indiana Jones and the Depends of Death
or how about
Geritol Jones And Them Pesky Young'ns
YIPS from Steve-O: My favorite: Indiana Jones and the HEY YOU KIDS! GET THE HECK OFF MY DURN LAWM! What was I saying?
Mull of Kintyre Test
I stumbled across this eye-opener today in pursuit of a broader knowledge of . . . Scotland! That's all!!!
And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a BBFC litmus test for the level of male "arousal" allowed in British film.
Don't those Brits ever talk about anything but sex?!!?
OK - ok! Go read it for yourself. Be prepared to encounter the phrase "angle of the dangle."
You won't believe me if you don't read for yourself . . .
Yips! from Robbo: This reminds me of the old Letterman Top Ten List of "Punchlines to Dirty Scottish Jokes." The best was, "She's in the distillery making Johnny Walker Red."
Petraeus tells it like it is
his testimony to Congress today. Via Drudge and Politico.com
Which bothers me more?
The fact that we are only number nine on Google for:
economic demands of llamas
or that the only reason I knew this is that someone dialed us up for that from the state of Georgia's Board of Regents?
Will No One Rid Us Of This Turbulent Weather Babe?
So far as I can recollect, I've only ever written the one post about the Weather Channel's Alexandra Steele, and that one was to call her and fellow prime timer Jim Cantori a matched set of bimbo and mimbo.
Yet as a result, we shore do get an awful lot of Google traffic looking for her name. I probably wouldn't even have given her another thought if I wasn't constantly reminded of it by sitemeter, but as it is, it's rayther the visual equivalent of an audio device that automatically snaps on every now and again to play an ABBA medley. Nrrrrrrrr........
Happy Birthday Mister Darcy, you old bastage you.
Colin Firth, born this day in 1960.
I go both ways on Colin Firth---I single-handedly blame him for the Jane-Fever that erupted after the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice, and as someone who has become a book-club widower subsequently I blame him for all the mediocre quesadilla and canned bean dinners I've had to make for me and the kids because the Missus is at Book Club. But at the same time, well, I liked the damn movie The Last Legion, what's a guy to do?
(And yes, I'm kidding about the Last Legion, a movie so craptacular that not even Kurt Russell could have improved it. Although, now that you think of it, the above pic really needs to be photoshopped for the new LLama Logo.)
Actually, I'll confess my hatred of all things Colin Firth stems more from a desire to really REALLY annoy Cathy the Cake Eater more than anything. And is there really a more noble calling? I don't think so.
Yips! from Robbo: Courtesy of our pal Full Volume Sarah:
"Veni, Vidi, Yippi."
YIPS from Steve-O: Oh YEAH, that's the good stuff!
The Greatest Movie Review. Ever.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
Today is the first day of classes for the Llama-ettes at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. (We're starting late because of construction, as the school is building a new wing.) In Montessori-speak, the nine year old is beginning Upper Elementary, while the seven year old is in the middle of her Lower Elementary cycle and the five year old is starting the last year of Primary. Translated, this means the gels are starting fourth and second grade and kindergarten, respectively.
My, how time flies.
Keen with excitement, they were all up, washed, fed and uniformed early today. (We'll see how long this lasts. Three days, tops, imho.) Actually ahead of schedule and waiting about for the Missus, they decided to go outside and ride bikes. When I pulled out of the garage, it occurred to them to give me a rousing send-off, which they did by following me to the street, hallooing enthusiastically.
We live on a street that gets pretty busy at rush-hour and sometimes it's difficult to find an opening in the line of cars as it crawls by. Not today - I got waived in immediately. And I could see a parade of grinning faces stretched quite a way up the street as teh Llama-ettes cheered me on and I waived back over my shoulder.
McCain and Lieberman on Iraq in this morning's OpinionJournal.com.
Yips! from Robbo: Read it.
I heard a clip of Nancy Peloooozi calling Gen. Petraeus a liar and a dupe this morning. Even in the cynical world of Washington politics, where the object of the war has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with taking down Dubya, I think this is a serious tactical mistake that is not going to play well with the public. I suppose Nancy feels she has no choice if she is to keep the Moonbats happy, but they are pushing her and the rest of the Surrender Now! wing farther and farther out on a limb. I look forward to the day it snaps off.
September 09, 2007
September 08, 2007
More Gratuitous On-The-Banks-Of-The-Tiber Posting
The Ecstacy of St. Cecilia by Raphael (1514)
I confess that I really know just about nothing concerning the praise and invocation of saints within Catholic tradition, but - assuming that I may - I fully intend to include St. Cecilia (patron saint of music) among those to whom I offer thanks for guidance and from whom I request ongoing aid. Regular readers will know that I frequently link the music that I play and listen to with the choiring of the cherubim and the seraphim. Monteverdi, Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart - it's through their works that I feel the most direct connection with, well, God, and always have done, even as the overall tide of spirituality has ebbed and flowed in the ol' soul. In fact, for years I have had a small Donatello relief of St. Cecilia on top of my piano, although I admit that when I first got it I did not really attach that much spiritual importance to it, but instead thought it just a rayther sophisticated cultural reference.
But this patronage business can be tricky. The past few days, I've been reading a lot of conversion material - you know, the "how I found Rome" kind of thing - and I must say that it has been both joyous and terrifying. Joyous, because so many of the passages have provoked me to say, "yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about!" Terrifying, because so upsetting of the comfy, complaisant frame of mind into which I seem to have allowed myself to get over the years. I've sniped and ranted and raved about the downfall of TEC here for a long time, but that's just peanuts compared to the soul-searching I suddenly find myself facing now.
This brings me back to Cecilia. She's never really talked to me before. But this afternoon I was stumbling my way through a Bach partita. For years now, owing to time constraints, I haven't been able to do much more than sight-read. The result is a sloppy, surfacy, error-prone musick that I have long rationalized as "good enough under the circumstances." Well, I did more or less the same this afternoon, and when I was done, I thought the same thing: good enough. Then I looked up at Cecilia, and I swear the look she gave me said, "Is it?"
I'm pretty sure there's a giant, economy-sized, "Hello? McFly!!" metaphor about my spirituality not very far below the surface there. Think I exaggerate? I went out to the garden a little bit later. I dunno who the patron saint of gardening might be, but as I looked at the weeds, the untended plantings, the neglected dead-heading and, in short, the general not-even-close-to-potential shabbiness, whoever it was said, "Does this remind you of anything? Hmmm? I'll take 'What is Robbo's soul?' for five hundred, Alex.'"
I tell you, friends, things are coming to some kind of serious head here, sparked I think by Dad's death earlier this year and the current shattering of the Anglican Communion. Such a combination makes one take a good, hard look at oneself. Either I'm getting some big time religion, or else I'm about to go quite mad.
BTW, I'm not going to do much more proto-Catholic blogging here. Not really the right sort of thing for Llama Central. (Not enough spitting, for one thing.) Instead, I'm thinking of setting up a separate blog on which to record my Rome-related ideas. (I'll be happy, of course, to tip off those of you interested in reading them - and hopefully providing some feedback.)
Incidentally, tomorrow is Homecoming Sunday at my current church, which means the big picnic out on the grounds and a great deal of socializing. The cat is already somewhat out of the bag about all this Papishness, several of the parishoners there being regular Llama readers, and I have a feeling that I'm going to have a fairly trying day explaining myself.
Oh, and one other thing I'm not going to do anymore 'round here is take pot-shots at the Episcopal Church. She's already hulled between wind and water and is going down fast. As I leave, I find that's a cause for sadness, not shadenfreude.
Gratuitous Saturday Afternoon Lawn-Mowing Observation
It strikes me as patently unfair that while we haven't had any rain for some time past we still seem to have an awful lot of mosquitoes hovering about.
September 07, 2007
I blame Mrs. P
Robbo, have you heard from Jordana lately? Great minds....
Who Said It?
"You elected the Democratic party...but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war."
a) Rosie O'Donnell
b) Michael Moore
c) Markos Moulitsas Zuniga
d) Osama Bin Laden
Although the above quote can easily be a talking point for any of the anti-war moonbats, the correct answer is d)!
Oh yeah, and apparently if we all embrace Islam he'll let us take advantage of super low-rate mortgages. What a guy!!
I'm calling bullshit on the new Osama tape based on the transcript: it doesn't match up within 3 standard deviations of his pre-9/11 rantings. Since when does Allah's Sword give a crap about the mortgage interest situation? Please.
UPDATE: My favorite part: someone's been playing a wee bit too much of the movie JFK on the blu-ray in the back room of the 7-11 in Waziristan where's Osama's been hiding out as of late:
That's right, ladies and gentlemen: JFK was elected to stop the Vietnam War, and when he didn't do the bidding of the multi-naitonal corporations, they had Rumsfeld kill him.
I mean seriously, read the thing. I've heard more rational, lucid argumentation from a completely baked trust-fund stoner wearing a "Bush Lied" t-shirt scrumming for spare change in front of the Little John's Deli on the UVA Corner.
Grant Petraeus Writes The Troops
Malkin's got the letter.
Gratuitous Crossing The Tiber Observation
See what happens? Say that you're headed for Rome and people start dialing in looking for liturgical flags. It'll be dance shoes and tambourines next, I just know it.
(As it happens, I believe the particular church at which I intend to sign up for RCIA classes does not go in for this sort of thing, but I should have to consult with our Visiting Llama Padre, Father M, to be sure.)
YIPS from Steve-O: Father M. (and my Mom) are going to be calling in a Gratuitous Exorcism on me for noting this, Robbo, but my in-laws can set you up with some high quality liturgical dancers in the diocese. Because you really haven't lived until you've gotten some good liturgical dance under your belt....
I'm just a tad bit bitter as it emerged in a conversation last night that my Moms reads the LLamas for Robbo's posts..... Something about the implacable parent preferring the burnt offerings instead of the fruit of the vine comes to mind...
Yips! back from Robbo: You want to talk about "burnt", just imagine how red my face turned when I realized that your Mom probably read the post that touched off that comment discussion about the proper nomenclature and positional symbolism of backside tattooes. (Although considering what I accidentally did to Danno's Mom that time, she ought to consider herself to have got off lightly.)
YIPS from Steve-O: Nah, by this point if it's anything off color or off-kilter, I think she just assumes it's me. Realize guys this is your big opportunity!
We're also in big trouble with my folks for the sheer apostasy of our FredHead money raising thing.
Fortunately, I don't believe my Dad's logged in to the LLamas around the time Gary has gone off the deep bend with his NY Mets stuff, because that would be the final straw.
Hey, I'm used to it, I'm the middle child so whatever you guys do it's on me.
Dr. Rusty has been covering the impending surfacing of a "new" Osama vid.
Color me extremely skeptical. I think the Big Binster turned to maggot-chow somewhere on the Afghan/Pakistani border some years ago.
Yips! from Gary:
I dunno. After looking at this comparison pick:
If he's alive, he doesn't look so good (the "Just For Men" treatment aside). And notice the droopy right eye? We could have a "Weekend At Bernie's" situation here.
In fact the more I look at it, I'm reminded of that Star Trek episode with the alien "mannequin" fronting for Ron Howard's little brother.
If they roll the videotape, check to see if his mouth is moving.
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
Two sisters have kept their dead mother in an undertaker's fridge for ten years - so they can visit her every weekend.How very Norman Bates.
Josephine and Valmai Lamas could not bear to bury mum Annie after she died in 1997, aged 84, reports The Sun.
Instead, they have shelled out more than £13,000 to keep her in cold storage at a funeral parlour.
Josephine, 59, of Chiswick, West London, and Valmai, 52, of nearby Harrow, make separate weekly visits to sit with Annie in the parlour's chapel.
The Sun quoted a family source as saying: "Enough is enough... They don't seem to think what they're doing is in any way bizarre. But it's disturbing."
A post mortem examination revealed Annie died from an embolism but the sisters were unhappy with the findings.
They have paid £20 a week to keep Annie in the fridge at undertakers G Saville & Sons of Wembley, North West London.
They have also coughed up more than £2,000 on five wooden coffins - as four have rotted away over the years. And a further £800 has been spent on make-up.
Funeral director Phillip Saville said: "There are no laws saying people can't keep a corpse for years after registering the death, though it is normal to bury the body after just two weeks."
Valmai would say only: "I have always been a very private person and I am not interested in discussing any issues of my life."
When Moonbats Attack
...or When The Angry Left Can't Control Their (Irrational) Anger. Former Air America star Ed Schultz lost it during an exchange over politics in a restaurant. Captain Ed is scratching his head over what is wrong with these people.
It's always amusing to see the violence inherent in the anti-war Left -- or at least it's amusing from a distance. When was the last time a conservative radio host got into a barfight? Do you suppose Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, or Michael Medved would take a swing at someone in a bar over a political disagreement? If they did, it would make national headlines. I wonder if we'll see the same kind of coverage about Air America's star.If you go to the link and read about the exchange it seems that what triggers the violence is when the Lefty in question either loses the argument or finds themselves at a loss.
The Nursery Is Red In Tooth And Claw
Tony Woodlief has an amusing essay over at OpinionJournal on what might be called the Hobbesian view of raising kids:
While some mothers and fathers stubbornly cling to the utopian beliefs of their childless years, the vision of humans as inherently sinful and selfish resonates with many of us who are parents. Nobody who's stood between a toddler and the last cookie should still harbor a belief in the inherent virtue of mankind. An afternoon at the playground is apt to make one toss out the idealist Rousseau ("man is a compassionate and sensible being") in favor of the more realistic Hobbes ("all mankind [is in] a perpetual and restless desire for power"). As a father of four sons, I've signed on to Mr. [Thomas] Sowell's summation of a parent's duty: "Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late."
Hear, hear. As a matter of fact, one of my stock lines when lecturing the Llama-ettes on a given breach of conduct is, "You are all going to start acting like civilized young ladies, and not like a rampaging hoarde of barbarians!" (In my moodier moments, I've also been known to substitute "barbarians" with "savages" or even, when particularly moved, "apes".)
I think what keeps me going sometimes is the anticipation of what they'll have to go through with their own children someday. Oh, how I intend to sit back and roar with laughter!
Read the rest. And btw, the article lines up very nicely with my rant t'other day on the foolishness of the bumpersticker line that "reality has a well-known liberal bias." No it doesn't.
September 06, 2007
Michael Vick, call your agent
Gratuitous Cranky Lunchtime Observation
Saw a young lady sporting a tattoo of a woman's name on the back of her neck while wandering the streets of Dee Cee this afternoon.
Is this some new kind of symbolism the young people have invented about which I have not yet heard, or is it simply a permanent "Hi! My name is --" badge for the benefit of those casual encounters in which introductions are simply skipped on the way to, em, other things?
The world wonders.
Our pal Sleepy Beth gives a review of the movie Into the Blue which caused me to smile not so much because of the film itself, but because of the awesome coolness with which Beth's husband Tim avoids a potentially deadly trap:
First up was Into the Blue. The basic plot of this movie was to try and find as many reasons to put Jessica Alba into a bikini and then have her swim around such that she got a wedgie and exposed maximum butt cheek. After what felt like about an hour, I turned to Tim and asked if he was as bored as I was. He admitted that it was certainly a slow starter. We paused for a second to see how much time was remaining, only to realize that we'd managed to watch exactly 20 minutes and that over an hour and a half still remained. We watched the majority of the rest of it on x60. It went something like, "Blah blah blah. Oh, now they're fighting. Hey, drug dealers. I bet he's bad. Ha! I was right, he is bad. Swim swim blah blah. Really uncomfortable looking wedgie. More drug dealers - hey, he's bad too. I actually didn't see that coming. Awww, now they found treasure." Unless you want unrelentingly boring hours of watching Jessica Alba in a bikini, I'd skip this one. 0 Wedgies out of 5.
Emphasis mine. Well done, sir.
I'm reminded of a funny throwaway line from one of my favorite movies, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, in which Domina notices her husband Senex gawping at the parade of courtesans moving into the house next door:
Domina: Senex! Come away from that house of shame this instant!
Senex: Oh, but Dear! I was just standing here saying, "shame...shame"!
Obligatory Musickal Posting
Not much more to say than that, as Pavarotti represented a style of big-lunged, swing for the fences - what? divoism? divoness? - that was terrific if you enjoy 19th Century Italian stemwinders, but not much use if your only real operatic love is Mozart.
It's Officially Official: Fred Is In
If you're interested you can watch his announcement video here. A pretty straight-forward rationale for running.
As I've said before, I'm an intractable fence-sitter in this race until the calendar flips to 2008. How Ol' Fred does will depend on how well he can present himself to primary voters over the next four months as something beyond "that guy on 'Law and Order'".
At the very least it should make the current field sharper and better prepared to take on "she who will not be named".
As for the debate last night, I refuse to watch that kind of format (soundbites down the line) when there are still so many candidates that have zero chance - Paul, Tancredo, Hunter, Brownback and the other Thompson. They need to follow Jim Gilmore's lead and find something else to do.
The race right now is:
Top tier: Giuliani, Thompson, Romney
Long-shots (for ballast): McCain and Huckabee
Any more than these five on a debate stage is unnecessary at this point.
Yips! from Robbo: We've had fun with the Ol' Fred bit here, of course, but I'm still not anywhere near sold on him. However, I think Gary makes an excellent point about his usefulness as a stable-pony for whoever winds up taking on SWWNBN.
This is the kind of thing that makes politics interesting. Over at The Corner, they may have discovered how clever it was on the part of the Thompson campaign to declare his candidacy on Sept. 6th. Interesting stuff.
Gratuitous Nats Posting
Just in case nobody has noticed, the Nats have won their last five straight, including finishing a sweep of the Marlines last evening.
We're only 15 1/2 out of first place now. Your Mets better watch their backs, Gary.
September 05, 2007
Random Commuter Observations - Northeast Division
Speaking of bumpah stickahs, I saw one recently in the parking lot where I work. It said "When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.49 Per Gallon".
Let's ponder this one, shall we?
The premise here is the Bush is responsible for the price of gas today (and by extension, Bubba was responsible for the lower price some six and half years ago). Whether it's meant to imply that the war in Iraq ("Bush's war") or that there is some sort of behind the scenes machinations at work in the administration to benefit the President's "oil buddies", I'm not completely sure. But either assumption simply understates the car owner's complete lack of understanding of basic economics.
Oil is a commodity, plain and simple. It is turned into various products - gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, home-heating oil, etc. - by refineries and in turn sold as those products. Once it's refined, it can't be unrefined. How much gasoline is produced depends on the anticipated demand. If too much is refined, you have a surplus. If too little is refined, you have a shortage. The first lowers the price, the second raises the price.
Obviously the chief driver of the cost of gasoline is the price of the crude oil which is traded on the open market. It's usually purchased in large quantities and the price is driven by simple supply and demand.
Demand has increased worldwide for oil over the last six years. The supply is limited and is currently being exceeded by the demand, driving the price per barrel higher.
"Bush's War" is not responsible for the lower supply. Iraq today pumps out far more barrels of oil that it did under Saddam's regime because of the U.N. sanctions.
Because the price is set by the supply and demand principle, the only possible way to manipulate the price upward is to cut back on supply. Both the President and his "oil buddies" have no effect on the supply. In fact, they'd love to increase the supply by drilling places like ANWR. Unfortunately, any effort to drill there is thwarted in the Congress.
Sporting a bumper sticker that implies that the President of the United States is responsible for the average price of a gallon of gas doubling over six plus years is specious and demonstrates a profound level of ignorance.
But, hey, it looks good on a bumper sticker, right?
September 04, 2007
Random Commuter Observations
On the way home this evening, I spotted a bumpersticker that said (as far as I can recall in the wake of the Nats pulling one out in the bottom of the 9th):
Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
(The sticker also had a photo of somebody I did not recognize.)
My first reaction was, "Huh?"
So was my second reaction.
My third reaction was, "No, wait a minute. This is entirely bass-ackwards."
By "liberal", I gather that the sentiment of the sticker was not the Burkian definition of this term, i.e., the sentiment that the average person, if left to himself within a general framwork of laws regarding property and crime, will use his God-given talents to better his condition, thus benefiting both himself and all around him, and therefor contributing to a general rise in the overall condition of Mankind. No, I reckon it was something closer to the Orwellian modern meaning of "a cadre of enlightened intelligensia will take the reins of power in their hands to outlaw all bad things," with the ultimate paradigm that everything not outlawed will be mandatory.
Taking this, I believe the sentiments of said bumpersticker to be complete and utter horseshite.
"Reality" is that Nature is red in tooth and claw. "Reality" is that life is nasty, brutish and short. "Reality" is that every single human being since Adam lives in a fallen state, prey to terrible influences and temptations. And Reality is that no power on Earth can do away with this state of being. Thus, "Reality" -as far as policits goes - is, in fact, extremenly conservative. Not in the Darwinian "every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost" sense. Rayther, in the sense of realistic expectation: we do what we can to suppress, check or tame the more horrible aspects of existence, but we never, ever, believe that we can eradicate them altogether. God alone is the final arbiter.
This all brings back to mind a political conversation I had with my sister-in-law recently. She's a Wellesley grad and although clever, apparently buys into the notion that Mankind's ills (and all other conditions of Nature) can somehow be done away with solely by Mankind its own self. She was genuinely shocked when I said that this was impossible, that at best all we could hope for was some kind of amelioration, that all of us in the business of justice had to keep this in mind as we plodded along, and that in the end we had no choice but to trust in a Higher Power to ensure ultimate equity.
This also brought to mind an article I read this afternoon over at VirtueOnline by Geoffrey Kirk, in which he blasts the Episcopal Church and its Millenium Development Goals. In a way, this is something of a metaphore for why I've finally decided to abandon TEC once and for all and head for Rome. (Yes, the cat's out of the bag.) Here you have all the (granted, well-intentioned) folly of purely humanistic pursuit. I don't especially doubt the intention of the program (at least as far as individual contributors are concerned). However, given the outright hubris of design and execution, I don't for a minute doubt its ultimate failure. (Whether The Powers that Be within TEC fail to recognize this failure and will be surprized in their idealism, or whether they know exactly what is going on and reckon that they will, at least, gain the moral high ground with their flock, I leave to far more disinterested observers.)
Here's the ugly truth: In fact, Reality says, "Praise the Lord but keep your powder dry." Our job as Christians is to work within this dictum. As I recently remarked to Mom, if Mankind was perfectable by earthly means, Jesus would be out of a job.
UPDATE 9/12/07 - Welcome Stand Firm readers! And thankee to Greg for the kind words. What doesn't really come out in this post is that I've been feeling the call of Rome for quite some time now (years, really). The combination of the meltdown of TEC and some personal circumstances was simply the activating agent that finally decided me to follow the call and see what happens. But it's a pretty intense process of inquiry and reflection and at the end of it, who knows what will happen.
A bizarre indicator of progress in Iraq? Or is someone being completely delusional.
Probably somewhere in the middle.
I just came across this while persusing the job listings in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Position: Development Officer Institution: American University of Iraq Location: Date posted: 9/4/2007
The American University of Iraq - Sulaimani
The American University of Iraq - Sulaimani invites applications for the position of Development Officer (Fund Raiser).
The Development Officer will coordinate and integrate the planning and implementation of economic development and fundraising initiatives for the University, to include strategic planning, communications, business, government and community relations, and related areas of activity.
· Assist in the initiation, coordination, and evaluation of university fundraising activities; provide guidance and leadership to the university community for fundraising activities.
· Oversee the planning and coordination of fundraising activities, including television on-air, direct mail and telemarketing campaigns, and special events including banquets.
· Write solicitation proposals, reports, press releases, and communication materials.
· Represent the University to various institutional divisions, as well as externally to media, government agencies, funding agencies, students, and/or the general public/local community.
· Work with media outlets to promote marketing and advertise forthcoming events.
· Build and maintain long-term fundraising relationships.
· Organize traditional fundraising activities.
· Provides strategic, integrated policy analysis and consultation to senior administrators on major institutional issues regarding economic development initiatives.
· Direct and manage the process of developing, refining, and monitoring and reporting on the implementation of strategic economic development initiatives.
· Develop and implement a consistent, effective plan to increase the University visibility in economic development initiatives in order to further the mission and goals of the University and position the institution as a major force in the business community and development activities.
· Prepare and/or contribute to the preparation of reports, briefings, presentations, and responses on strategic planning issues, on behalf of the Chancellor and senior leadership, as appropriate.
· Serve as the institution's primary point of contact on economic development matters, issues, and organizational interfaces.
· Perform miscellaneous job-related duties as assigned.
Essential Job Specifications:
· A baccalaureate degree in business administration and/or related field from an accredited university.
· Knowledge of marketing and public relations principles, methods, media, and techniques.
· Advanced verbal and written English communication skills and the ability to present effectively to small and large groups.
· Advanced interpersonal skills and the ability to effectively work with a wide range of individuals and constituencies in a diverse community.
· Extensive experience in institutional fund raising.
· Demonstrated success at raising funds by developing and implementing strategic solicitation fund raising plans that incorporate a concise definition of goals, targeted audiences, and strategies in-line with institutional and academic goals in higher education from individuals, corporations, and foundations, both local and international.
E-mail : email@example.com
Web Site : www.auis.org
Mr. Mahmoud Muati
Director of Human Resources
The American University of Iraq - Sulaimani
Development Officer for the American University of Iraq? Can you imagine the cold calls for the annual fund? What's their mascot---The Fightin' Great Satans? And who do they play for Homecoming, those wacky Embassy Seizers at Tehran Tech?
Throwing The Liturgical Flag
It's the Liturgical Referee:
The recently created position of Liturgical Referee has been instituted to help to bring uniformity to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Liturgical Referees will travel around the world randomly attending Masses. Liturgical Referees will stand, mostly quietly, to the side of the sanctuary during Mass and call out signals if he observes any liturgical penalties according to the GIRM and other liturgical documents. Only in the case of penalties that would make the Mass itself invalid will the Liturgical Referee blow his whistle and when necessary call for any replays to correct any mistake made. Penalty markers may be thrown during the Mass to alert the celebrant to any problems that might need immediate correction.
Go on over to the Curt Jester to see a pic of a ref in action plus a handy-dandy guide to fouls and signals (among which are included "No Crucifix in the Sanctuary," "Liturgical Dance Detected" and "Un-Christianlike Conduct").
Yips! to Gail at Scribal Terror.
Justice David Souter: Misguided And Unstable
Every Conservative's favorite Supreme Court whipping boy, David Souter, allegedly had a little bit of a tough time dealing with the 2000 election.
According to Jeffrey Toobin’s new book on the Supreme Court, Justice David Souter nearly resigned in the wake of Bush v. Gore, so distraught was he over the decision that effectively ended the Florida recount and installed George W. Bush as president.If only he had retired. Sigh.
In “The Nine,” which goes on sale Sept. 18, Toobin writes that while the other justices tried to put the case behind them, “David Souter alone was shattered,” at times weeping when he thought of the case. “For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice,” Toobin continues. “That the Court met in a city he loathed made the decision even harder. At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same.”
Of course, if this story is true it confirms the worst suspicions of many - that he's a BDS*-plagued moonbat. Sitting on the highest court of the land. Scary.
Gratuitous Post Labor Day This-N-That Posting
I suppose I've still got a bit of the long weekend grogs, as a bunch of thoughts about it are floating about in the ol' Llama cranium but show no sign of blossoming into full-fledged posts of their own. (I'm still saving the one really big one for another time.) So what the heck, I'll just throw 'em down any-ol'-how:
****On Sunday I got bushwhacked by my failure to read our church bulletin carefully enough because we had five baptisms in our service, a fact that I didn't discover until it was too late. As I sat through it, my main thought had to do with the attire of the parents and Godparents involved: One would think that a fellah would put on a coat and tie for his own kid's Christening, but apparently not. Hmph.
****We spent yesterday afternoon at the pool, where I spent the majority of the time hurling the five year old through the air in a series of flips and spins. She has a whole command procedure mapped out: as I stand in the water, she yells, "Knee up!" When I've raised it, she proceeds to stand on my leg where, when set, she says, "Control!....Set!" I then count to three and heave her as high and away as my poor arms can manage, while she springboards off my upper leg. The gel never tires of this, although I do. (I also do it with the seven year old, although I can't toss her has far. I had to give up on the nine year old when her long, colt-like legs started kicking me in spots better left alone.)
****Last evening at dinner, not only did I finally tell the nine year old that I'd read the Harry Potter books, I also told her she could stay up to watch the baseball playoffs and world series when they aired, and that she could watch the 'Skins-'Fins football season kick-off with me as well. I wonder how much this urge to bond with the gel is motivated by the signs that she's starting to think about boys a bit.
****On the ol' Netflix queue this past weekend:
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) - A nicely-done Clint western, only slightly marred by the fact that one of the bad guys chasing him was Dean Wormer. "Lean, mean and traitorous are no way to go through life, son."
Henry IV, Part 2 - I wrote a very enthusiastic review of Part 1 of this production a week or two ago. This second part lives up to the first in terms of quality. Part 2 doesn't have the same grand dramatic design as Part 1 - No Hotspur, no climactic battle such as Shrewsbury or Agincourt. Instead, the remains of the rebellion against Henry Bolingbroke, now lead by the Archbishop of York, are quietly (and somewhat underhandedly) disbursed fairly early on. The bulk of the drama focuses on the relationship between the dying Bolingbroke and his son Prince Hal. Plus, there is a great deal concerning the villainous Falstaff's plan to exploit his friendship with Hal once he is crowned, a plan that crashes in flames when Hal (now Henry V) disavows him. The Llama-ettes wandered in just as Falstaff began to understand what had happened, and were much saddened. I pointed out that it was sad, but also that Falstaff brought it on himself. [Sooper-sekret note: Falstaff is not speaking to Hal when he talks of having heard the chimes at midnight together, but to his seedy friend Master Shallow.]
High Fidelity - Well, I'd seen it before but couldn't remember anything about it. Also, the Missus is a big John Cusack fan, so I thought I'd surprise her. However, when she saw the DVD, she said, "I've seen this. Meh." I watched it anyway. Meh.
****Couple of new books that I'm reading at the moment:
Fathers and Sons by Alexander Waugh, the latest in a long line of literary Waughs. Reading about some of the appalling behavior starting with that of the paterfamilias known as "The Brute", you can begin to understand why ol' Evelyn (Alex's grandfather) went bananas.
Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca, by Captain Sir Richard F. Burton. In 1852, Burton disguised himself as a Muslim and went on pilgrimage to Medina and Mecca, recording his observations as he went. Fascinating stuff. I had read his account of his exploration of the Great Lakes of Eastern Africa and found it a bit tedious. This record is far more interesting, probably because the human element is much more complicated and absorbing.
On Being Assimilated By The Hogwarts Collective
Okay, okay! I'll read the fershlugginer Harry Potter books, already. Happy?
UPDATE: However, let me be abundantly clear: I go into this with a very cranky, critical eye and the resolution not to be caught up in Pottermania. So there!
September 03, 2007
Stalling, Appalling, Y'all-ing with Fred
Lean and mean for Ol' Fred?
HE IS running for president – literally. Every day Fred Thompson rises at dawn and hits the gym to get himself into shape for the White House race, according to a close confidant.
“He’s really prepping himself physically and mentally for the campaign. It’s like Bruce Spring-steen getting ready for the big tour,” the source added.
The fitness drive is part of Thompson’s attempt to inject energy into his 2008 presidential bid, which he will launch formally on Thursday.
At 6ft 5in in his gym shoes, the former senator for Tennessee and star of the television series Law & Order is not short on stature, but he has been putting aside time for a personal trainer and is said to be “svelte and in tremendous shape”.
A battle bus is ready to roll with the slogan “Security, Unity and Prosperity”, taking him to five states. He will appear on the Jay Leno Show, where Arnold Schwarzenegger launched his campaign for California governor.
He had better get cracking, Republicans warn. Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W Bush, said: “From the moment that Thompson declares, he has about a one-week window for people to say he’s for real or not. If people get a let-down feeling after his announcement, because he got in so late, it will be harder for him to recover.”
After a phenomenal start to his unofficial bid for the White House last spring, Thompson’s campaign nearly ran out of puff over the summer as the would-be candidate dithered about when to enter the race.
The high point was an audience with Baroness Thatcher in London in June – the nearest thing to a blessing from the late President Ronald Reagan. Thompson had been expected to announce a fortnight later, but feared his organisation was in poor shape. As the weeks drifted by, the enthusiasm of his “Fredhead” supporters waned, his fundraising hit a wall and his poll numbers deflated.
A series of top aides were hired and fired and his wife Jeri, a former Republican consultant, was accused of micro-managing his campaign. She was the one person on top of the job, friends say, and will remain influential.
By the time Thompson was lolling around the Iowa State Fair last month, wearing Gucci loafers on a golf cart instead of going on a walkabout like every other candidate, his closest advisers were appalled by the squandered momentum. The YouTube clips of a seemingly “lazy” Thompson played to the image of a candidate who lacked the fire in the belly to run.
Speculation mounted that Thompson, 65 – who has suffered from lymphoma, a form of cancer, which is in remission – was in poor health. He was losing weight, it was noted. But he was in reality turning into a lean campaigning machine, according to friends. “He knows the race is going to be physically gruelling and he is all psyched up,” one said. “It’s look at you, man!”
The article gets worse from there. I just don't see it happening for Ol' Fred, to be perfectly honest.
News from the Sandbox
INDC Bill's back in Iraq.
September 02, 2007
Gratuitous Labor Day Weekend Posting
We had dinner with some friends last evening at the rooftop restaraunt of the Hotel Washington, located on 15th street just across from the White House. The food was very C3, the service bad and the drinks monstrously expensive, but it was well worth it to sit eleven floors up and watch the sun set over the Arlington hills, especially on such a cool, crisp evening.
Perhaps still bemused by the conversation we had, coming home to Virginia I accidentally turned off Chain Bridge Road into the main entrance of the CIA, instead of on to Georgetown Pike, the next light down. I had long heard that if you did this, you would get in an awful lot of trouble with base security and that you'd be saddled with a heavy fine. Well, this wasn't the case: there is a turnaround just short of the main gate, with a sign on it that comes about as close as it can to saying, "Get the hell out of here, ya loser" without actually doing so. Otherwise, nobody bothered with us. However, I'm sure the place is crawling with surveillance and that even now photos of the ol' jeep and copies of my license and registration are working their way around some sooper-sekret filing system.
So what was the conversation that caused me to forget where I was? Well, I don't want to say too much just yet, but Father M should stand by for an email: we need to talk.
September 01, 2007
History repeats itself
Fundraising scandal brewing with the usual themes: shady characters, straw man donors, and bundling. This is reminiscent of the good old days with Charlie Trie, the Buddhist Temple, etc. but without the Lincoln Bedroom or White House "coffees".
Cartoon too controversial to publish
Here via Hot Air and Salon.com.
(This reminds me of a certain LLama who had a mildly controversial comic strip in a law school newspaper at a small private university in Virginia back in the day. This LLama enjoyed needling the dean, the faculty, and his fellows students by featuring them as thinly disguised characters in the strip. I recall a certain drinking game he invented in a burst of evil creativity in which yours truly got the needle without even the benefit of a thin disguise. The Butcher's Wife and Mrs. LMC love to remind me of it whenever we visit The Butcher's Shop. Here I am, sixteen years later, still getting the needle.)
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
Well it may not quite be mists and mellow fruitfulness time just yet, but today marked that magic day late in summer when you first notice how much the light has changed already. Mmmmmm.
By the way, it was such a glorious morning that when I took the five year old out for breakfast, not only did I put the top down on the ol' jeep, I also let her wear my John Lennon granny-specs against the sun. She thought she was the coolest thing on the planet, and judging by the looks we got from some of the cars around us, she certainly made quite a splash. We had a blast, too, only clouded at the very end when, while gesticulating wildly about something or other, the gel managed to slap the glasses right off her own face and out the side of the car. Fortunately, this happened just short of the driveway, so I was able to retrieve them with no trouble.